Born and raised in Missouri City, Texas, Lanny Smith played basketball throughout high school and in college at the University of Houston.
In 2009, Smith signed with the Sacramento Kings, but within 33 days of signing his first and only NBA contract, his basketball career would come to an end. Smith endured a career-ending knee injury.
Years later, that pain transformed the former athlete into an entrepreneur that’s gaining international attention with his brand called Actively Black.
“My thought process was, ‘Why continue to ask for a seat at the table? Why not build our own table and be able to give back to our community in the way we need to?” explained Smith, who is the brand’s founder and CEO.
Actively Black launched on Black Friday 2020.
“Everything we are doing is premium quality, but we want it to be accessible. The purpose of this mission is to give back and reinvest into the community. We donate heavily back to programs that deal with Black mental health,” explained Smith. “Obviously, we are trying to activate the community, to make the Black community more active and fit. The Black community is hit the hardest with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and high blood pressure and on the social justice aspect as well.”
Years prior launched Active Faith, a faith-based sports apparel brand that he maintains in addition to Actively Black.
“New Year’s Eve, former First Lady Michelle Obama posted this photo of her and her husband, President Obama, at their NYE party and he was wearing the Actively Black watch on his wrist,” Smith said.
Most recently, Actively Black debuted on a worldwide stage.
“The official uniform and apparel provider for Nigeria for the winter Olympics,” Smith said.
Smith has this message for Black youth: “First and foremost, there’s greatness in your DNA, that’s the tagline of Actively Black. I think the generational effects of oppression, racism and discrimination, some of that seeps into the subconscious, people start to believe they are less than, they are not as smart as--, they cannot achieve these things,” Smith said. “Part of the purpose of this brand is to deprogram and reprogram our own thinking and knowing there is greatness in our own DNA. You can literally achieve anything you put your mind to. Being pro-Black and trying to build up my community, is not anti-anything else.”