ESPN’s new website The Undefeated has officially gone live and its very first story centers around reporter Lonnae O’Neal’s 36 hours immersing herself in the life of Beast Mode. O’Neal flew to Oakland, California after contacting the people close to the recently retired (albeit not officially) running back to get a glimpse into the inner-workings of Marshawn’s ecosystem.
Although Marshawn didn’t agree to an official interview, the five-time All-Pro back allowed Lonnae to kick it around his recently open apparel store, Beast Mode–a store that employs eight, including four security guards, all but one family.
The takeaway from the article that features very few quotes from Beast Mode himself, is that Marshawn’s ideology about business and giving back is nuanced, sincere, and unwavering. The article contains multiple references to Marshawn and his people proclaming ‘Town Bidness,’ a decade-old Oakland rap term that means, “we know where we come from. We know what we have to offer and we’re willing to give back.”
This is evidenced in Marshawn spending time in Haiti to build houses and schools for its impoverished citizens. It is highlighted in Beast Mode’s Fam 1st Family Foundation which sponsors financial literacy workshops, grants scholarships, gives away holiday turkeys, and holds talent shows and barbecues for the citizens of Oakland. The foundation has grown to more than a half million in assets.
As we all know by now, Marshawn does nothing for the fame or notoriety. His actions are driven by beliefs rather than artificial motives. Golden State Warriors small forward Draymond Green invited Marshawn to ride with him on the team’s float after the Warriors won the NBA Finals last year. Green had this to say about the experience:
Lynch could have put Beast Mode anywhere, but “he put it right in the heart of Oakland and it shows his love and his care for the city.”
The one thing I remember him saying that will never leave me, he looked at me almost in tears as we were riding through the parade and he was like, ‘Bruh, thank you! I’ve never seen this many people gather in my city for something positive like this and what y’all have brought to this city can never be replaced.’”
The article concludes with a funny story about Lynch challenging a little old lady to a game of ping pong.
Lynch is taking his pingpong table to the streets.
Actually, to the sidewalk in front of the store. As he rolls it across the floor, a group of guys walk in and stop short when they see Lynch.
“Yo’ ass just gonna stand there, or are you going to help me?” Lynch asks them and they hurry to help push the table out of the door. Lynch then beats one of them handily in a quick game.
He plays cousins Marco and Anzel, two of the four lookalike Reed brothers who work store security.
Clerks and customers from the nearby salon and a Starbucks gather, and pull out camera phones as Lynch takes on all comers. “You ready for that challenge?” he asks passersby.
Fans want pictures and Lynch says no — “only with kids.”
A small, older looking white woman walks by.“Ping Pong!” she exclaims.
“Yeah! You look like you want some,” Lynch tells her. “I’ll whup that ass.”
She giggles, waves and walks away.
Check out the entire piece here.
I choose to believe this was the expression on his face when he called out the little old lady.
[h/t The Undefeated]