Actively Black Spreads Mental Health Awareness With Shirts and Sweaters
By: Isabella Wong
A group of Black athletes worked to spread awareness of the significance of physical and mental health for a while. In November 2020, former NBA player Lanny Smith launched a clothing line called Actively Black, which spread the message of strengthening physical and mental health, especially towards the Black community.
Actively Black even hosted a Mental Wellness camp during Mental Health Awareness month, where more than 100 Black men participated in activities to ease their minds, including yoga, meditation, and more.
Smith explained the story behind starting this brand. He explained how not long after he finally achieved his lifelong dream of signing a contract into the NBA, he received an injury that resulted in a torn cartilage.
“I had an incredible opportunity to actually make it to my dream, a dream that I had since I was 5 years old, and then it was done in 33 days. It was devastating,” he said. I went through depression. I didn’t see myself doing anything else other than playing in the NBA. I had this fear of, ‘What am I gonna do with the rest of my life?’ ”
In 2011, Smith launched his first-ever sports clothing brand, Active Faith, based on how his mother raised him to stay faithful. So many people appreciated the message behind their merchandise, allowing them to sell over $20 million of their products.
His career grew tremendously, and eventually, Actively Black was launched to encourage Black families about ways to maintain a good mental state.
Smith said,“I want Black people to feel excellent seeing something that represents them, and I want them to know that we can compete at the highest level. Being Black is not a barrier to doing that.”
Although an injury permanently ended his basketball career, Smith was able to stand back up and find his passion in another area in business as well as helping others.