Keshawn Liggins is a doer. He was drafted into the NBA G-league, successfully managed increased course loads throughout school, and has dreamed of running his own gym since he was a kid.
So, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to stay home for two weeks, he decided to use the situation as an opportunity.
“I had sat down for about a day and had realized that I could not do it. It wasn’t something where I could sit there and do nothing,” he says. “I felt like my time is better utilized toward improving people, so instead of sitting there and taking that as a vacation, I decided to put one of my childhood dreams, which was always opening up my own gym and my own training, I put that into fruition and put the steps behind it to build Adversity Athletes.”
Keshawn invited kids from his local community to start training and playing basketball outside his home. Many of his athletes dealt with a variety of adversities, such as coming from single-parent homes, getting cut from teams, and not being able to play as much as they wanted.
As attendance and enthusiasm grew, Keshawn created the Adversity Athletes brand, shifting his focus from an eventual gym to the work he was already doing.
“Why I did it is because of my athletes and everything that I experienced in my life,” he says. “Going through trials and tribulations and a ton of adversity that I’ve experienced, I put that into the brand and then I created it for my kids. My kids are the foundation of Adversity Athletes and that’s what it’s about.”
A year later, Adversity Athletes is thriving, working with athletes of all ages, including kids as young as 10 years old, middle schoolers and high schoolers, college athletes, and professional athletes.
And it’s not all about sports. Keshawn combines both training and mentoring in every session. Unlike many trainers, who try to get in and out of their work as quickly as possible, he wants to make a life-long difference. By spending more time with his athletes, he can offer physical, mental, and spiritual direction.
“Because I’m not just teaching my athletes in the sports that they play, but I’m teaching them to be great students, great young men and great young women,” he says. “To have self-belief in themselves, to have confidence in themselves and that they present themselves and represent themselves the appropriate way to know that people should respect them for who they are.”
For Keshawn, Adversity Athletes is a way to bring life to his community, something he lost when his father and hero died during his early childhood. He strives to be the role model he wanted when he was young, passing on the support he received from his mother and other key people in his life.
“I feel like God put me on this earth to impact those that are around me, so everything that I do, I try to benefit people,” he says. “I try to give them motivation. I try to inspire them. I try to let them know that if they get knocked down, you can keep going and make something of yourself. And just because people don’t believe in you or you lose somebody or you face some type of adversity, that you can keep pushing on.”
It’s this mentality that defines his work. Recently, he helped a student who couldn’t dribble or run full speed rediscover his love of basketball. Today, this athlete jumps and grabs the rim while playing. Another student was counted out of sports due to his weight. While working with Keshawn, he lost 60 lbs and is now taking the right steps to better his health.
What he loves to hear the most, Keshawn says, are the stories about helping classmates, teammates, and parents.
“Those are the things that stick out to me more than the individual accolades they get from playing and competing in their sport,” he says. “It’s the things that they do that shows they’ve matured and they’re growing and becoming good people. Lending a hand to others and building them up, those are the reasons why I do it.”
He also loves watching his athletes reach and set new goals, discovering the limitless power of their own potential.
“Just the growth and seeing them not only improve as a basketball player or as a football player or as an athlete, but to see their growth mentally and who they are as a person and how they walk and present themselves now,” he says. “A lot of the kids I have started with no confidence and now they walk into the door and you’re like, ‘Who are you?’ Those are the things that definitely put me in the right position and I know that I’m doing the right thing.”
Hear the full story here, where Keshawn offers tips on finding your self-confidence, eliminating doubt, and achieving your dreams by learning to commit.