Tywanna Smith is a brand builder, an entrepreneur and best-selling author of “Surviving the Lights: A Professional Athlete’s Playbook to Avoiding the Curse.”
Her experience as a professional basketball player, business owner and financial advisor puts her in a unique position to provide comprehensive advice and perspective to other professional athletes regarding their sports branding, business management and financial needs.
Raised in West Memphis, Ark., Tywanna discovered her love for the game of basketball at a young age, spending hours playing basketball with the local boys in her town. One of them was her cousin, Marcus Brown, who went on to become a professional basketball legend overseas.
“Marcus inspired me to pursue basketball,” Smith said. “However, I always stayed true to my parents’ guidance to put my academics first.”
Smith earned both undergraduate and masters degrees in business administration from The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She was also a four-year starter for the women’s basketball team and while at Ole Miss, she led the women’s basketball organization to its first NCAA tournament in years.
Following her MBA graduation, she played pro ball in Europe. That’s where she recognized a need for sound advice for pro athletes like herself.
“I had many agents approach me to advise me on how to manage my money,” she said. “But with my educational background in business and finance, I felt that most of the financial advisors that I spoke with were not always honest or helpful.
“I realized that many professional athletes, with incomes in the multi-millions, could be easily exploited or left ill-prepared to make the proper financial decisions to support themselves into retirement,” Smith continued.
This discovery inspired her to focus on helping athletes manage their finances and their brands.
After her second season of playing professionally, Smith was approached to join the corporate world with Merrill Lynch (a wealth management division of Bank of America), as a financial advisor.
She decided to retire from professional basketball to become a financial advisor, where she focused specifically on helping athletes.
“I found myself helping my clients protect their assets, build and monetize successful brands, coordinate community initiatives, secure marketing endorsements, and more.”
In June 2016, Smith launched her own sports marketing and management agency, The Athlete’s Nexus, which provides branding, business management and financial planning services for professional athletes. The mission of the agency is to manage clients’ lifestyles so they can focus on their professional careers. She acts as a mediator between her athlete clients and all the aspects of running their brand.
“I am committed to helping each professional athlete become a better citizen, a better role model, and a better businessman, she said.”
Though her client list is heavy on U.S. athletes playing abroad, it is impressive: Marcus Brown (retired NBA player and the Euro-League’s 3rd all-time leading scorer); Sonny Weems (Maccabi Tel Aviv, NBA); Terrence Metcalf (retired NFL player); Desmond Mason (NBA’s Seattle Supersonics); Troymaine Pope (Seattle Seahawks ) and many more.
Utilizing her knowledge from her professional career on and off the court, Smith created a written blueprint for athletes, on how to avoid the downfalls that come with successful athletic careers.
Over the past decade, Smith has helped over a dozen professional athletes protect their assets, evaluate business opportunities, secure marketing endorsements, coordinate community service events and appearances, start non-profit organizations, and make significant life decisions. And she continues to educate, empower, and elevate athletes.
In February 2017, she authored “Surviving the Lights: A Professional Athlete’s Playbook to Avoiding the Curse.” It quickly became a best-seller on Amazon and has received a number of positive reviews.
“The book guides athletes in their careers at every level, as well as, in their transition to life after sports,” she said, “Such as helping high school athletes get exposure, advising college athletes choose the correct agents, and instructing professional athletes to get the most out of their contracts financially.”
Tywanna is married and a proud mother of two boys.
(Tywanna Smith can be contacted at www.tywannasmith.com.)