Marshawn Lynch Is Transforming Oakland One Black-Owned Business At A Time
By DeAnna Taylor
If you follow football in any way, you have likely heard the name Marshawn Lynch aka ‘Beastmode.’ The former Seattle Seahawk and Oakland Raider running back became well known for his post game interview styles.
Whether it was his now-popular phrase, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” or his more simple answer of “yeah” to any question that was asked, Lynch has made it known that he doesn’t really like media attention.
Because of this, many people outside of his hometown of Oakland are unfamiliar with all that the star is doing around his community. While being in the spotlight isn’t his thing, giving back to his community most certainly is.
Throughout his career, Lynch was known for not being flashy and instead, saving the majority of his earnings from the NFL. With the extra money that he saved over the years, he has begun investing it into new businesses across the Bay Area and Seattle.
One of the first things on the list was the Family 1st Foundation, a nonprofit created by Lynch and his team to give back to the youth of Oakland. Any resident of the area will tell you that the foundation is known for pulling up in their Beastmode trucks and giving out tens of thousands of backpacks and school supplies around the start of the school year.
According to the website, the mission of the organization is as follows: “The Fam 1st Family Foundation saves the lives of black and brown youth on a daily basis and is raising the consciousness of a broken community to become more self-sustaining, more accountable, and less dependent on outer entities. Each philanthropic endeavor strikes the unique balance of athletic appeal and scholastic achievement in a neutral, yet nurturing environment.”
Just like many cities across the country, Oakland’s Black community is fighting against gentrification, especially in the inner city. To do his part, Lynch acquired a key piece of commercial real estate in the heart of downtown Oakland for his now Beastmode Apparel store. The store, located at 811 Broadway, sells pieces from the athlete’s clothing collection under the same name.
What makes this even better, Lynch employees his own family members and on any given day, you will find him hanging out and talking sh*t like only he can.
Rob Ben’s, named for a cousin that passed away, is the restaurant that the football star opened a few years ago. It sits on the border of Oakland and smaller suburb Emeryville. According to one resident that I met while there, the space was once owned by a Black family in Oakland and was a popular gathering spot for the Black community. Lynch, who frequently ate there himself, stepped in to ensure the spot would continue as a Black-owned establishment.
The restaurant is known for it’s seafood dishes, garlic noodles, and cocktails that will definitely get you right.
Most recently, he invested in a communications store. Just a block away from his clothing store, you will find the newly opened Beast Mobile. Yep, it’s exactly what it sounds like.
This cellular communications store utilizes the towers of Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T but they are an independent phone seller. In addition to the phone plans, Lynch’s partner introduced an app that allows subscribers to earn credits through their phone devices.
On top of this, the company paired with the Family 1st Foundation for the Phones for Homeless program. Through this initiative, the company offers a free phone and service for 1-year to those in Oakland’s homeless community. They understand the need to have a means of communication especially for those who are getting back on their feet and being reintroduced to the workforce.
These are only a handful of the things that the Oakland native has his hands in. He’s building his own production company, investing in more commercial real estate, and he even owns a piece of Lyft that supplies scooters around the city.
While he may be short on words, it is evident that he has an enormous heart.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.