New England Patriots player Bret Lockett is a poster child for “getting your foot in the door.” Once just a kid from Diamond Bar, Calif. who played high school football, this man has taken that natural talent and turned it into much, much more.
During his junior year at Diamond Bar High School (which is located just outside of Los Angeles and apparently a breeding ground for notable athletes — Google it), Lockett decided going pro was something he wanted to get serious about. “I decided not to play basketball or run track so I could dedicate myself to being the best football player I could be,” he says.
That dedication paid off, allowing Lockett to get a considerable amount of playtime for UCLA’s special teams though he was only a freshman. For many, keeping both academics and athletics in line is a hard balancing act. But for Lockett, it was simply a conscious effort to work hard and play harder. “My first three years at UCLA, I was a party animal,” he admits. “However, as much as I partied I focused on school , and when I hit the football field for practice, it was an unwavering focus. I believed in fun but also had a dream that was much more important than any fun I could imagine.”
After a four-year run and appearing in 48 of 50 possible games at UCLA, Lockett was signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2009, but waived during final cuts later that year. The New England Patriots signed him the next day. But due to prior injuries, he had to watch his team from the bench at the Super Bowl this year. “It’s frustrating when all you want to do is contribute when you know you can’t, especially in the biggest game of your career,” he said.
Lockett’s success got him noticed by Thomas Duffy, who was working on a flight Lockett was boarding from New York to Rhode Island. “He actually asked me if I wanted an upgrade to first class,” he explains. “Of course my response was, ‘heck yeah.’” Long story short, Lockett later asked Duffy to a Patriots game, and they have been best friends ever since.
Best friends… and business partners. It turns out that Duffy was CEO of GroundFlights, which Lockett explains as “like an airline … except on the ground.” Duffy asked Lockett to join his innovative transportation venture, which aims to offer high-class transportation for business travelers throughout Florida without the long waits and hassles that typically accompany flights. The business is now into its second year and making positive strides, Lockett says.
You’d think Lockett would have enough on his plate with an NFL career and a budding business (and a couple odd jobs, like oh, some modeling and managing his own foundation, Looking Forward) but add a rapping career and a music label to the plate and it’s officially overflowing. In 2011, Lockett launched Inception Entertainment, in which he is currently the flagship artist. “Instead of following in others footsteps I wanted to create something that has never been done,” he says. “I knew the only way I could fully control my vision was to create an entity to where I was able to do as I pleased.”
It was only a matter of time until he experimented in the industry, with such talent as Etta James (cousin) in his lineage. “Her perseverance for breaking into an industry that didn’t welcome her with open arms shows me the courage and self-reliance one must have to make it in any industry where so few succeed,” he says.
Want a taste of Lockett’s success? He left us with some advice for college athletes and entrepreneur hopefuls. Athletes, listen up. “There are way too many student athletes who have problems finding a job after their careers because they never understand that one day they will have to find one. If something is your passion go for it, just don’t forget there are many things out there you will never know you like until you try them.”
And for the business-minded students, (this was so good we couldn’t cut it; Lockett, add motivational speaking to your list of accomplishments): “Entrepreneurs, you are in the B-age, where entrepreneurs think about making billions instead of millions,” he said. “Take advantage of it! Nothing stays the same so you must always stay ahead of where you’re headed. Having vision and a knack for being able to transition into the next phase is key for any business person to understand. Many people will doubt you, many will say you’re crazy but like Ted Turner says, ‘crazy like a fox.’ Always know who you are and believe in yourself and the rest will take care of itself.”