The Find Your Grind podcast is a weekly series hosted by our founders, Nick Gross, Natasha Gross, Mike Smith, and Luke “The Dingo” Trembeth. Each week, we speak with special guests on the first 10% of their personal journey, decisions that led them where they are today, and how they built their ideas from finding their grind. In this week’s episode, Nick Gross, and Dingo sat down with founder of the Venice Basketball League (Venice Ball), Nick Ansom.
Leader and entrepreneur, Nick Ansom shares his journey of how he pivoted from an ACL injury into creating one of the most recognized streetball leagues today. From his love for basketball and community, he pushed his leadership skills to organize and create something that was more than for himself. Today, Venice Ball brings together the best talent in basketball, gives back to the community, and attracts hundreds on Sundays for the love of the game.
Nick Ansom spent his formative years in Paris and instantly found his passion for basketball as a kid. Splitting his time between households, he easily learned how to relate and navigate between the communities in the suburbs and the city of Paris. By the time he was 12 years old, he built a basketball court so he’d have easier access to play and practice. In high school, Nick played in basketball clubs and practiced religiously — taking any free time (even during lunch) to play. From 8am-6pm he dedicated his time in school and from 8-10 pm, he practiced.
In his high school senior year, Nick moved to America and played at Fairfax High School being 1 out of 4 All-Americans at the school. His drive and determination would push himself and the team leading to State. His love for the game would transform, however, when at 19-years old he tore his ACL. The doctor asked, “What else do you want to do?” But Nick was fixated in his devotion for basketball. He saw that there were so many ways to the concept of a simple game and shifted his dream while working on his comeback.
Get up, get out. Do something productive that’s not connected to your electronics. Put yourself in a situation that’s uncomfortable to you. — Nick Ansom
During rehabilitation, he pivoted and studied the game in every way. Nick gravitated towards streetball because of its purity and roots of what basketball is about: the game and community. He began playing pick up games every day from 2002-2006 and visiting courts across L.A., from Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Venice. He set up BallinLA.com to organize lists informing where and when pick-up games were happening as well as featuring highlights of the those who ran the game. Streetball culture would build to become a movement.
He then produced the Sunshine Baller Tournament, which virally gained attraction from high profile streetballers to celebrities. After seeing the energy from this tournament, Nick wanted this to happen every week and formed the Venice Basketball League (Venice Ball). Today, Venice Ball is one of the most recognized leagues today, is heavily involved in community through repainting and sponsoring courts, and attracts hundreds every Sunday for the love of the game.
Venice Ball has repainted and fixed courts all over the world, with the most popular courts dedicated to Nipsey Hussle, and at locations in Watts and Oakland. Giving back to the community is very important for Nick and sees that it’s more than about his passions, but how he can extend his gift to others.
Nick’s story is a testament that possibilities are endless and there are plenty of opportunities to do what you love in the industry and lifestyle you love. Learning to pivot is essential in uncovering your potential.
This episode’s references can be found here:
00:55 – Nick Ansom
01:53 – Venice Ball
02:21 – FYG Lifestyle Assessment Test
02:24 – FYG App
06:36 – Pigalle, France
09:20 – Nirvana
09:39 – Basketball club
12:35 – Fairfax High School
12:45 – Boston College
13:52 – NBA
19:21 – Streetball
22:36 – Hollywood
22:39 – Santa Monica
23:54 – AND1
23:32 – The Harlem Globetrotters
24:58 – Venice
25:07 – BallinLA.com
25:34 – Sunshine Baller Tournament
26:06 – Sik Wit it
26:07 – Bone Collector
27:48 – Venice Basketball League
29:24 – Steve Nash
35:50 – Watts
35:55 – Nipsey Hussle court
37:01 – Crete Academy