Meet RJ White, America’s youngest owner of a professional basketball team

BY Preta Peace Namasaba February 12, 2024 10:46 AM EDT
RJ White. Photo credit: RJ White

At six years old, RJ White knew that she wanted to own an NBA team. She began monitoring trends and planning how to achieve her aspirations in the sports industry. A pioneer, White is a CEO and president of three sports teams, the first Black woman to purchase a men’s division team in the UK and the youngest woman owner of a professional men’s basketball team in the modern iteration of the American Basketball Association (ABA).

“My dad once told me that if you want to change something, you can’t change it from the outside. You can’t change it by complaining. You have to become a part of it. Along with my mom, they were the first people to encourage me to own a team. At six years old, I was walking around like I owned the Lakers. No one could tell me otherwise,” White said of the start of her journey in the sports business.

White’s passion for basketball came from watching the behind-the-scenes of NBA teams when her parents bought their first color television. The clips were short and always left her needing to see more. She decided that owning one of these teams would expose her to more footage. White shared this vision with her father who encouraged her to follow her dreams.

She started her first business, a credit repair company at 16. White got the idea when she went to purchase her first car and her credit report was brought up. Identity theft had become rampant but there were no protection mandates in place at the time. White went to the Senate and Congress to discuss the laws regarding credit which ultimately sent her to the White House. She was miserable through all this and realized that politics wasn’t her forte.

All White wanted was to be around basketball. She earned her Associate of Science degree in Computer Science from Baker College and began working towards her dream. In search of sporting experience, she purchased a men’s division team in the UK. But buying a team in the United States proved to be harder as there aren’t many competitive leagues. With the ABA, only a step away from the NBA accepting new team owners, White placed her investment into them for a franchise.

As owner of the Vipers Pro Men’s Basketball team, White became the youngest woman owner of a professional men’s basketball team in American Basketball Association (ABA) history. The team grooms and provides pro players opportunities to get into paid positions and exposure to play for an overseas club. It collaborates with overseas clubs that have an interest. Vipers have exposure in over 12 countries and has sent more than 45 of its players to play overseas as an alternative to the NBA and G League.

White believes that motivation and incentivization are fundamental for success in the sports industry. She gives the players extra perks such as traveling and bringing their families and ensures that they all have fun in the process. White is at the forefront of networking, corporate partnering, structuring and negotiating domestic and international strategies, collaborating on profitable concepts and community initiatives to permanently establish Vipers internationally. 

In addition, White is the CEO of Ballin in the Metaverse, the first energy sustainable multi-dimensional arena in California and within the Meta’s virtual universe. The multiverse model is set to host sports events, music events and social events. She is also a coach at Nike sports camps and an author.

White is determined to achieve her childhood dream of becoming the first black female team owner in NBA history. She is also inspiring the next generation to take up space and be the change they want to see.
“There’s nothing stopping you, and there will always be a need for creativity and new ideas. With that being said, you have to stand out and be ready for the moment they call on you!” White said of what is required to be exceptional.