2 Chainz is going to the league – as a part-owner.
Grammy Award winning recording artist and College Park native Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps has agreed to an ownership stake in the Hawks’ NBA G League team, the College Park Skyhawks. He joins the ownership group of the affiliate led by Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler.
A formal announcement will be made at a Friday afternoon news conference at his alma mater North Clayton High School.
Epps, who has just released a new album ‘Rap or Go to the League’ on the rapper’s The Real University (T.R.U.) record label, is a life-long fan of the Hawks and the NBA. He often sits courtside at games and has twice performed at the Hawks’ in-game concert series.
“I can honestly say this is a dream come to fruition,” Epps told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It all started in 2016 in the old Thrashers locker room at Philips Arena, transformed into an area for members of Hawks ownership. Ressler had just purchased the franchise and arena rights. At an informal meeting, that included CEO Steve Koonin, the possibility of Epps buying an ownership stake in the G League franchise that would relocate to the area was discussed. The room has since been converted to a high-end suite as part of the extensive renovations to the now State Farm Arena. Another sign of the changing times in the Hawks organization.
“His eyes lit up,” Koonin recalled about the initial meeting. “We started working on it and we met several times and he went through a full, rigorous review himself and his financials for the NBA. He has been approved. He is putting money in. He is an owner. He’ll have responsibilities as an owner.”
Epps admitted that such propositions come along all the time and most fall by the wayside. However, he said over the next three years, every 10 or 20 games, the Hawks would reach out and let him to the plan was still in the works.
Epps played high school basketball at North Clayton for coach James Gwyn, who received a couple of mentions on his latest album. He helped the Eagles to a state championship in 1993 as a sophomore. He earned a scholarship and played collegiately at Alabama State.
“It’s something dear to me because people know that I enjoy sports almost as I do my current job which is music,” Epps said. “I just have a real love and passion for basketball.”
College Park also is dear to Epps. He recalls the apartment complex that he had to move from to make way for an expanded runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
When the Hawks got official word that Epps had league approval for an ownership stake in the G League franchise, he came to the office the next day. They began to go over the details of the new organization, everything down to the logo of the mascot. Given a choice, Epps’ 4-year-old son Halo made the final decision.
“Let’s give him his props,” Epps said. “They had about four mascots to choose from. In this day and age, kids are really into super heroes and all these Marvel comics and Avengers and all this is going on. It’s safe to say that Halo picked out the one that looked most closely to a super hero. I can always consider him a living legend for that one.”
The Hawks will announce those primary and secondary logos. The profile of a gray Skyhawk is in the center of a red-outlined circle on the primary logo. Outside that inner circle, the words “College Park Skyhawks” are wrapped around in white print over a black background with a gold star on both sides of the Skyhawk. The Hawks ran the Erie (Pa.) Bayhawks the past two seasons before the relocation.
The Skyhawks will begin play next season at the Gateway Center in College Park, a new multi-purpose sports and entertainment arena. The venue holds 5,000 for concerts and 3,500 for basketball games. Of the new arena, Epps said it was $40 million well spent.
Epps plans to use his new position as a platform.
“I’m an entertainer,” Epps said. “I’m a hip-hop musician. … I’m able to use my platform to inspire the youth, with real action though, like real time, not just stories of what it used to be. I’m able to show them a real timeline of me actually going through these steps, ups and downs, and to continue the marathon. This is a real story that people can relate to. I’m tangible. I’m accessible. I’m somebody that people can touch, get next to. I’m at Hawks games with my kids. I’m a real person. I’m very transparent. I think the Hawks see how I can help spark the next coach, assistant, owner.”
For the Hawks, the move to bring on Epps is part of the franchise’s ongoing effort to push the envelope in sports, to be relevant, to stand out.
“We love trying to be different and trying to differentiate ourselves,” Koonin said. “We like trying to intersect pop culture and entertainment. … It’s all part of our DNA.”
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