Passion Is Priceless | Spending a Day in San Clemente with Ian Rice aka @clipps555
ThinkPiece #004 | Presented by solscience®
If it didn't happen on the Internet, it ain't real...
It still fascinates me that you can discover someone via Instagram that you initially hadn't heard of, catch a general vibe of what he or she puts out into the digital world, and then end up physically connecting and planting the seeds of possibly building together. And, there’s a certain beauty to it, especially when it’s built on something not necessarily deliberate nor calculated. Instead, organic and serendipitous. From being fans and followers of what we’re passionate about to carving out our own lane, the playing field is slowly leveling itself out. Build it and they will come. The ingredients: Passion, persistence, a good idea and a positive vibe. We constantly need to remind ourselves not to lose sight of that.
Enter Ian Rice aka @clipps555 – we were digitally and informally introduced by way of Michy Asquith aka @ma76bball. Michy, albeit residing in Japan, was actually the catalyst, who is literally part of our family and also linked us up with others including one Robert Martinez aka @stangnhoops, another member of the squad. Everyone is just good people sharing this love of family, basketball, sneakers and creating. And, of course, we’re grateful they all support the solscience brand and use our ANTIDOT premium sneaker deodorizer and freshener regularly (shameless plug). Ian is officially part of the BrandBlack squad and everyone here also supports that movement as well.
Breaking bread with Ian at North Italia in Irvine a few months back, we were interested and got the chance to delve into his story and learn more about him. And from all he’s been openly talking about to witnessing it slowly come to fruition, it seems like everything in his world has been leading up to this, the first chapter of the @clipps555 movement. Ian’s recently been actively plotting and making moves and now it’s coming time to execute. But let’s rewind a bit and connect present to past because there are a lot of previous chapters. There’s been obstacles along the way, but that only strengthens character providing real meaning and value.
The IG handle @clipps555 comes from the fact that Ian is a diehard Clippers fan. It actually all started with the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. Ian’s best friend at the time when he was in the fifth grade had season tickets to the Clippers. And although Ian was into other sports, once he experienced watching the game, he instantly fell in love with the team and the sport. To the point where Ian saved up enough money to buy a ten-game pass and eventually see guys like Michael Jordan, Shawn Kemp and Shaq play. He stirred up the curiosity of his ticket guy, Phillip Johnson, who was so impressed by his enthusiasm and how young Clipps was, that after Ian expressed his interest in becoming a ball boy, he told Ian to write him a letter and that he’ll put it on the guy’s desk that makes this decision. That whole summer Ian wrote a letter a week to Phillip Johnson. Chris Bayer, who just recently left the Clippers, ended up hiring Ian.
Ian did what he does best; he got friendly with the players. Guys like Danny Manning. Brent Barry. The whole squad. His respect of the game and towards the players, knowing how to talk to them on their level and of course, the swag. It all facilitated Ian in becoming one of them.
"Brent Barry won the 1996 NBA Slam Dunk contest, bought a brand new Mercedes, and I'd ditch school and go to lunch with him and just hang out."
And, Clipps was at their practices. He’d play them one-on-one, and if you weren't a player, you weren’t even allowed to shoot, but if they missed, he’d still make some cash – and even if he lost, they’d still hook him up. He was just good around the players. He gained their trust.
And then everything changed when Lorenzen Wright entered into his world. 7th overall pick in the '96 draft w/ Allen Iverson, Stephen Marbury, Kobe. And when he came to town, Ian and Lorenzen just clicked. Their friendship grew tight and Lorenzen took Clipps under his wings. When Lorenzen was away, he trusted Clipps to take care of the pad in Marina Del Rey, the 600 Benz, the Tahoe. Their bond grew so strong, the same night that Clipps graduated from high school (many of the Clippers were in attendance at his graduation), he immediately flew out with Lorenzen to spend the entire summer in Memphis. And when Lorenzen was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, Ian moved there as well. They had all kinds of plans. Ian was inner circle. Like the center of the inner circle. The future together seemed bright.
"Hindsight is 20/20, I think I was pulled out of that situation by a greater power because I wasn’t supposed to be there."
Without getting into the details, on July 19th 2010, Lorenzen Wright was murdered.
It changed Ian's entire life. His whole perspective on life. Ian went into a dark place and was lost. He turned to basketball and got way more into it. Maybe part of the reason was to not have to think about the reality of what just occurred. Ian was already pretty good at the sport, but he started to really get into basketball. Super seriously. It took some time for the wounds to heal, but day by day, Ian would begin to build his life up again. He built up a business, bought a house and things were beginning to settle down and stabilize. All the while playing basketball religiously.
And then he blew his knee out. He tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the doctor told him he'd never play again.
The BrandBlack Chapter
Fast forward a few years. Working in the restaurant business, you tend to meet a lot of people. One morning, while working at The Red Fox in San Clemente, Ian's boss hits him up and asks if he knows who Jamaal Crawford is and what shoe brand does he wear.
"Of course I know who Jamaal Crawford is. And he wears BrandBlack."
A guy by the name of Bryce (Ian has his position now at BrandBlack) happens to walk into The Red Fox and invites Clipps to Venice Beach to meet some of the BrandBlack basketball guys. And, similar to how it was with the NBA guys, Ian began building relationships again. He's been with BrandBlack for four years now. And, everything he's done up to this point... all of the basketball videos of himself he's accumulated, everyone he's met through the Clippers, BrandBlack, Instagram... he's slowly become a brand in his own right.
"I just love this game so much dude, and I don't know what I'm gonna do when I can't do it anymore."
But he does. And he is. Ian is ready now to transition into something more seriously other than just playing basketball. Whether it's selling product, building platforms, helping other people get better, happiness for Ian is doing what he loves to do and that outweighs everything. And that happiness revolves around the hoop. Money isn't the end goal. It should never be. And for people who are passionate about what they do, it never is. The players insipired him, and now he wants to reciprocate and inspire the next generation. While having fun.
The Clipps555 Chapter
I just finished listening to Episode 3 of The Follow Through with Clipps & Drew podcast series. And it’s fire. If you follow @clipps555 on Instagram, you'll know this has been in the works. The chemistry between Clipps and Drew makes for both an entertaining and educational show regardless if you’re a hardcore hooper that follows all the college and NBA stats and players, or someone just casually growing more interested in the world of basketball.
This is only the beginning of a story written about him, but intended for you and I. It's a message and reminder to all of us to keep having fun. And that you have to keep doing what you love. And that part of doing what you love is also having to go through things you don't necessarily love. How can you have the good without the bad? Life is short, but the chapters our long. It'll have its ups and downs. You can't control everything. But what you can control, control it well and put your everything into it in your own way. Ian Rice is on that path because he's persevered. And the path sometimes zigs and zags. From ball boy to an ambassador to the world through the game he loves and all of the people involved in his life past, present and future. Passion is so priceless. His is spreading positivity and his love of basketball through the platforms he's a part of. What's yours?
Podcast: The Follow Through with Clipps & Drew