Meet Jarnell Stokes: Former NBA Player and Gold Medalist is Breaking Barriers with Plans to be “More Than An Athlete”

Jarnell Stokes is a film producer, entrepreneur and an athlete. Starting his professional career in the NBA before becoming the highest paid big man in the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association), Stokes now finds himself juggling multiple hats while taking a hiatus from professional basketball. During that time, he has put a strong focus on being vocal about various causes, helped launch Stoked Superfoods, and his latest endeavor the Stoked Film Group. Stoked Film Group is a partnership with Benford Sports Entertainment and Unique Film Management to produce films that are geared to address social issues in a direct, but humorous feel.

When Covid-19 broke out, Stokes was in the middle of his dominating return to the CBA. Avergain almost twenty-three points a game and eleven rebounds, he was the highest paid big man in the CBA. Much like most of the world, all of that was brought to an end with the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I felt it wasn’t best to continue playing and I found myself with an opportunity to be engaged in activism.” Returning home, he found himself involved with some of the Goerge Floyd protests. While he certainly wanted to make a difference, he realized that there must be a more effective way to make a change. “Protests were good and helped raise awareness, but I felt that there were better ways to influence a change.” The biggest problem that he ran into was not gaining enough attention as an athlete. Spending time trying to speak out and make a difference about social injustices, he realized that athletes are not as influential as he once thought. “I quickly realized that we could be perceived as jokers of the hierarchy if we don’t push for a higher purpose. Presidents and executives are the kings and queens of society; athletes are perceived as  the jokers that are overlooked and only present to entertain.”

During this time, Stokes was determined to devote much of his time to making a lasting difference on society. He determined that he would make my primary goal in life to help others to find a voice and to raise awareness to the social injustices around the world. This noble goal was not always easy to follow through. “I lost a lot of friends, lost the opportunity to make millions of dollars, and was questioned for my commitment.” While many may have quit, he decided to keep pushing to follow what he believed God had put in his heart to do. “It wasn’t easy, but I knew God would honor my commitment.” His resilience was rewarded in late 2020, when he was approached with an opportunity to share his message with the world. Through a strategic partnership with Benford Sports Entertainment and Unique Film, he has opened Stoked Film Group – a film company dedicated to promoting diversity and raising awareness of today’s social issues through entertainment. “We are looking to bring back the social commentary and humor that was common in 90s TV and film.”

When asked what he plans for the future, Stokes answer was focused. “I definitely want to keep doing this. I am very aligned with the #morethananathlete cause and want to keep pushing activism and giving other athletes the ability to speak up and make a difference.” This commitment is emphasized by his involvement as the regional manager of the HipHop Caucus and his upcoming tv show. “We have a goal to educate others on the behind the scenes of politics and solutions to the issues we see.” This show will be produced with the assistance of Moe Vela (a former senior advisor for President Biden  and the producer of Steve Wozniak’s new show “Unicorn Hunters”) In addition to his social endeavors, Stokes trains two to three times a day and mentioned a plan to return to professional basketball this coming summer.

If you are interested to follow Jarnell Stokes and his current endeavors, you can follow him via the links below.

Jarnell Stokes Instagram

HipHop Caucus Instagram

Website for Stoked Film Group

LA Weekly