How Avery Johnson Jr. Rose from Basketball Court to Boardroom

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Avery Johnson Jr. (center) with Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (Photo courtesy of Avery Johnson Jr.)

            It’s long been said that team sports prepare players for life, teaching valuable lessons that translate to ethics, personal relationships, and even business. Whether it be learning to work as a team and collaborate to reach a shared goal—a skill that’s ultimately helpful to any relationship, from career to personal—or that success requires dedication, consistency, and hard work, the field or court plays a monumental role in the character formation of athletes as they leave college and professional sports behind. Many ex-athletes take their experience and become agents or get an MBA to venture into the business world, either working for someone else or starting their own company. Some, however, leverage everything they learned and the deep connections they’ve created to form a thriving personal company and educate, empower, and propel other athletes toward greater financial independence during and after their athletic careers. Avery Johnson Jr. has done just that and so much more.

            Ever since he was a kid, Johnson has been deeply enmeshed in the world of sports, specifically basketball. His father worked as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets, and the former NBA player took his son everywhere, from practices to games. So naturally, Johnson grew up surrounded by the game and even played himself. After an impressive D-1 career with the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, he walked away from pursuing a professional career or following in his father’s footsteps to pave his path. With a Master’s in Sports Management, he stepped out independently, combining his unique experience, entrepreneurial spirit, and personal circle to create an unmatched formula for success.

             As someone who’s always had a way with people, Johnson capitalized on his ability to connect with them and connect them with opportunities simultaneously. Beginning his professional business career managing Marketing and Operations for Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray proved to be the taking off point to what would soon become his own multi-faceted company. Using his life and school experience, Johnson learned on the job, successfully growing the presence of both athletes through partnerships and calculated ventures that expanded their respective brands. The natural step was up from there, so he launched Elevate Global. Offering an umbrella of services—including marketing, brand representation, business development, and more—for athletes and beyond—the company has expanded exponentially since its inception, proving Johnson’s knack for biz dev and the power of his relationships.

            Elevate Global was Johnson’s way of including all of his diverse skills and passions—from image management to business advising—under one “roof.” When asked what sets Elevate Global apart from others in the industry, he explains that “it’s the network— the people behind the company who advise it, and those who lead it, (including myself), who have the connections of a business that’s been around for years.” Although it’s his main company, that has not stopped the CEO from expanding into various avenues since founding it. Johnson’s secret weapon in the saturated world of sports business is his ability to see opportunity and strategically execute a plan. Three-time NBA All-Star Booker, attests to his skills, “[Avery] was always a step ahead of everybody his age. He’s on the route to doing big things; he already has. He’s somebody who has his ear to the street. He knows what’s going on.” His proven track record led Booker to take their working relationship to the next level; with the opening of their first restaurant, 40 Love in Phoenix, Arizona—the two are already looking into expanding into a second location in Dallas, Texas.

            Given his already full plate, it’s hard to imagine how another project can be added on, but when you do what you love and are full of drive, expanding is the only natural course of action. Marrying his two worlds—business and sports—Johnson is set to launch his new company, Flerish Hydration, this summer. Seeing a gap in the market for a healthier alternative to sports drinks, he quickly began working with a team on an exclusive formula rich in electrolytes but low in sugar. This venture will be ideal for his current field and mark the young entrepreneur’s entry into the growing wellness space. The years spent playing, watching, and working with athletes have significantly shaped the current chapter of Johnson’s career.

            The professional faith that those in his inner circle have for Johnson is a testament to his dedication to the people he works with and for, and to his enterprising mindset. With so much growth achieved in a short time, there’s no telling where he’ll go next, but it’s clear that no matter the business, he’ll always be at the top of the game alongside his team.

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