I have always been a die-hard basketball, NBA, and sports fan. I was a pretty solid athlete in high school and had offers to play collegiately in both basketball and tennis. But even after my playing days ended, my passion always continued. I always envisioned having some type of career in the sports world, but the real world got in the way - and I ended up pursuing a career in law as an attorney. However, I never felt quite fulfilled as an attorney. Even though I still find the law very interesting, it could never match my passion for sports.
About 7-8 years ago, I discovered Daily Fantasy Sports (“DFS”). I was hooked almost instantly, as this combined my love of sports with the thrill of competing against others. I missed the adrenaline that you get from competing in sports, and the rush of DFS started to fulfill a gap that had existed for years. I immediately knew I wanted to dive deeper in this space and learn all I could. And pretty quickly, I found myself writing for a website and providing videos on DFS content. I wanted to share what I learned and my passion for DFS with others.
I have always loved to entertain other people and try to make people laugh. Life is hard enough, and I cherish providing content that not only is informative but also is entertaining and can bring real joy. Pretty quickly I realized that sure I hoped my content would make people money playing DFS, but I was trying to do much more than that. I wanted to build a community. I wanted to bring people together on this wild journey. And whether we won money or lose money, I wanted to make sure we had one hell of a time.
After a few years, I started doing podcasts and here is where I really started to go after my vision. I wanted to really let the creative juices flow - so I created an entire new world based on DFS with characters, themes, plots, story lines, etc. I would basically write scripts for each podcast episode. It was a ton of fun but a TON of work, and I just couldn’t sustain putting in 7-8 hours a day while still being an attorney. I was exhausted and just burned out...time was my biggest issue. And I just didn’t have enough of it. I still was providing DFS content in my own Slack channel, but I had to scale back.
Last year when Covid hit, I, like many others, came down with this illness. And it hit me really hard. I don’t have to go in to a ton of details, but it almost took my life. I was incredibly sick for 4-5 months, and this was an incredibly scary time. However, I made it through and fully recovered by the end of last year. When you get this sick, it really makes you evaluate your life choices. And I told myself, if I make it through this, I have to make some changes. In particular, I need to do something that I am passionate about. Life is too short to do something that you don’t love.
While I was sick with Covid, I was bedridden for months, and I watched a lot of Twitch. I was very intrigued by the platform, and I wondered why I had never tried it before. It seemed like the perfect vehicle for me to do what I always strived to do in putting out a product that was about innovation, creation, and information. So, I had a pretty good idea my content would do well on Twitch, but I just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger yet.
Fast forward to February 2021, and I discovered a new product and a new love/passion in NBA TopShot (“TS”). TS is an Non-Fungible Token (“NFT”), which basically means it is a digital collectible. An easy way to think of TS is that it is digital card collecting...but more importantly, it is about watching your favorite basketball Moments in NBA history. TS takes the best Moments from the basketball season, and makes it so you can buy and collect them on their platform. It is a revolutionary product, and the die-hard NBA fan in me was instantly hooked. And bam - I knew almost immediately that this is what I wanted to begin my streaming career with.
And so my new journey began. Like DFS (which I still love and also will be streaming hard in the future), I tried to learn all I could about TS. I spent a couple months becoming an expert in this space watching every show/stream, reading every article, and listening to every podcast on the topic. And the content out there was suboptimal in my opinion. Almost all of it was from people in the crypto or NFT space - and almost NONE of it was from true basketball fans who wanted to collect the product. It was shocking to me that we had non basketball fans and non collectors of the product giving out advice and providing content to people. I also was appalled that the very same people who made a fortune on the product were the only ones who were providing content. We needed new voices in the space. We needed voices who would look out for the average collector. I sincerely thought I could do a much better job, and I was motivated more than ever to begin my journey. I was tired of seeing only the super wealthy control this new product that I loved, especially since it was pretty clear they were in it for the wrong reasons - to make money and NOT to collect the product and the best Moments in NBA history.
And so, my streaming career began. After a couple weeks, I felt such support and could see the growth happening - and I LOVED streaming more than I ever imagined, so I made a scary decision - to go all in and stream full-time as my career. Honestly, it has been an absolute whirlwind, thrill, adventure, grind, and a rollercoaster of emotions. But my love of basketball, Topshot, and my community has gotten me through. I believe so strongly in our message and was so determined to make Twitch Partner that I vowed to not take a single day off until we achieved this first milestone in our streaming career. So, I streamed every single night (some days) too and just grinded my butt off. I already had a decent following from my DFS career, but honestly, a lot of my current viewers are new additions from the TS community. Our motto has been to consistently provide the truth and be honest with the TS community and to fight for 99.9% of the users whose voice is often neglected or forgotten. We do not back down from the wealthy influencers in this space, and are not afraid to criticize the product we love when they make questionable moves. But at the end of the day, we love basketball, TopShot, and we love the journey that we are on together. And let’s be honest, we love to have a good time. So, we kept going day after day after day - slowly growing, learning, battling, grinding, and we made it to our first goal: Twitch Partner. But this was just step one, and honestly feel that the true journey has yet to begin. And that is to become the number one Twitch Sports voice on the platform.
I took a lot of my ideas from my podcast days and incorporated them in to my stream. I will always be about innovation, creation, and information so while we have a basketball/TS (and DFS) stream - we are about so much more than that. Basketball may be the guiding light, but our stream is truly about community and just enjoying each other's company. That is what I am most proud about so far on this wild journey - our community.
Our community is what I am most proud about thus far on the journey. They are kind, generous, loyal, and incredibly supportive. And they are pretty funny. There have been several days I did not think I’d have the energy to stream, but my community has gotten me through. They are there with me on stream (and in discord) night after night no matter what time I stream or how long we stream. I genuinely feel that we have become a family, and we all support one another.
When one of us makes a mistake or has an issue, it is all of our mistakes or issue. Recently, one of our members needed over $3K due to an honest mistake, and we are helping him raise that money back together. Personally, I was a victim of a cyber attack losing over $1,000, and my community pitched in to make me whole. We always have each other's back, and it is truly inspiring and it has been a surprise. I did not expect this to happen so quickly for us.
Not to mention, they are incredibly talented. Our community has helped with graphics, IT issues, giveaways, and a variety of other important tasks. I do not have a ton of money right now, so a lot of the tasks needed to grow and improve, we have to do in-house. And our community has given their time and talents to help our cause and asked for nothing in return. This is really inspiring and keeps me motivated to keep going and striving to create better content.
This is a tricky question, as I don’t want to reveal too many secrets or bring you completely behind the curtain. Hahahaha. But, I can honestly say that I am 100% true to myself. When I started streaming I knew almost immediately, that was the only way it could work for me. So, I am VERY open on stream. My family would say that I am too open because there is almost no path I won’t go down. Look, people are curious by nature, and I don’t think we have to ignore topics and questions that we all have but are almost never discussed. Yes, here I mean sex. So, I will address more mature topics if I feel they are done in the right way. Not only sex, though. We may discuss any issue that is pressing or one that I think deserves some recognition or awareness. I plan to start a fundraiser to help those with opiates addiction soon, as several members in our community have lost a loved one due to that disease. I have a platform, and I have zero desire to use it only to discuss basketball. If we can tackle difficult topics in an informative, honest, and genuine way, then let’s go and do it. I want to do as much good as I can in this space.
And not only difficult topics but entertaining ones as well. I love movies, pop culture, and entertaining in general - so almost every topic is fair game. Hell, I even sing and do rap battles on the stream (well, I did in the past and def will again). I think it’s important to not take myself too seriously and just focus a lot on bringing joy and laughs to the community. Life is hard enough, and if I can make my viewers laugh hard a few times a show, that’s a successful show in my opinion.
Back to my brand, though, I do get a lot of questions about “The Judge.” This is the name I have been going by for years, and it has kind of just stuck - and now I love it. I changed my name to the Judge after I was harassed and threatened after a follower allegedly lost a lot of money several years ago playing DFS. I am not a fan of being stalked, and there are some unbalanced people out there, so ever since that night - I switched my name to The Judge. As an attorney, it felt right, and it immediately resonated with my community. And we have created a world around that name. My dog (a French Bulldog named Ed Harris) is the Bailiff, and we incorporate several segments in the show that play on the “legal” theme. After all, the name of the stream/show is called DG Courtroom.
One thing that I want to touch on here is the fact that I keep calling it a show instead of a stream. There are a lot of streamers. A lot of people just hit record and go live. I just want and demand more of myself than that. I want each stream to be a show - like a can’t miss TV show that is appointment viewing. If you miss a show, you will miss out. I take great pride in making each show an occasion, and I strive to bring a certain level of preparedness and energy that is not seen on most streams. Now, can I maintain this over a period of months/years - I guess we’ll find out.
I think we grew and achieved Partner by simply being genuine and truthful to our community and viewers. We did not take any short-cuts, we worked our butt off day after day to provide the best and most informative and entertaining TopShot stream on Twitch or anywhere for that matter. I don’t think there is a quick and easy answer to growing - if there is, someone please tell me. I just worked my butt off, was honest, genuine, passionate, and I think all of those things resonated with people.
The biggest challenge by far was the hostile feedback I received from certain individuals on TopShot who found the product early, made a fortune, and continue to think they deserve and are entitled to own this space. Even though most are not fans of the product, the NBA, or want to collect the product. Most of them are here simply to make money. Which is fine, but I do not think that is what TopShot should be about. I am on the platform because I love the NBA and want to collect it, and me and my community are here for the long-haul. So, I am very outspoken on my views that we need genuine collectors in this space, and that we need true basketball fans. Some of the ones that made small fortunes have become pretty hostile towards me and threatened me in DMs or in other ways to try to knock me and my community down or to try to stop us. But they have no idea who they are up against. Me and my community are on a mission to speak the truth and bring facts to light - and to speak up for the average TopShot user. I will not back down to threats from the privileged and wealthy - in fact, each threat, negative comment, and effort to bring me down, just inspires me to work harder. At the end of the day, the people can decide who to believe and who to trust in this space. And the data, facts, evidence will make this pretty easy. Others can attack me personally, while I will continue to stick to facts and data because the truth is on our side.
We hit Twitch Partner pretty fast. I don’t know the exact number of days, but we were over 75 views for a 30 day stretch within the first 2 months (got denied the first time), and then we were over 100 views for a 30 day stretch within the next 2-3 weeks - and the 2nd time we applied, we got approved. This was an important step for me and my community, but it was just step 1 of our journey together. It was critical to achieve because now I don’t need to focus on views as much and can focus on what matters the most - content. I can take more chances creatively, and I can test out streaming at different times. So, glad it is behind us and now ready to really see how far we can take the stream.
Honestly, it wasn’t one thing - it was just feedback in general. When you are streaming as much as I am, you can get lost in a bubble. A lot of stuff that I was doing seemed pretty good, but I wasn’t getting much feedback at all after shows. So, my mods helped me create a questionnaire to get legit and honest feedback from our viewers. The answers genuinely caught me by surprise in terms of what viewers liked, didn’t like, wanted to see more/less of going forward. Obviously, I want to provide content that my viewers like, so I have adjusted accordingly, to a lot of what they want to see or want me to provide. I plan to release a similar questionnaire every month or so to constantly keep getting feedback and improving.
You guys are making me feel bad with this question. I have had a lot of “interesting” things happen to me, but none of them have really opened any doors as of yet. Does this interview count? Haha
I have met some great people, interviewed some amazing guests, partnered with some cool sponsors, but still waiting for an opportunity to take us to the next level. Now, you guys have me bummed out! If anyone out there wants to give me an opportunity, I promise I will not let you down...
I admit that I am still trying to figure out how to balance streaming and day-to-day life. Currently, I am just grinding almost nonstop. I truly have only taken 1 day off of streaming since I started (Note: I took a 2nd day off but that day I streamed on one of my sponsor’s stream for 5 hours). I am so motivated and determined to build and grow my channel/community, that I have sacrificed my personal life at the moment.
I stream for at least 4+ hours each day, and when I am not streaming, I am in my discord or working with my marketing team on how to grow. Also, because there is so much work to do to make us grow during the day, I have been streaming very late at night - some days until 3 in the morning. So, this definitely has been a grind and makes for some long days. We are currently building a website, working on creating a YouTube channel, social media, etc. So, I have been swamped trying to continually add more content besides just streaming. I anticipate writing on my website and recruiting members from my community to assist with writing as well. There truly is not enough time in the day right now to get done what is needed. But I find all of this really fun and am so passionate about it that the hard work doesn’t faze me. However, we’ll see how long this lasts, as I do think at some point I will want to have some semblance of a personal life again.
I am not anxious that I no longer have a lot of in-person interactions, but I am definitely aware of it. I think it is healthy to maintain real relationships outside of streaming and not get completely lost in the “Twitch Bubble,” so in a few months when I feel our stream/website/discord/community is in a really good place - I will make a concerted effort to make sure to take a day or two off per week and get back to actually going out in public and meeting people in person.
My family/friends did think I was a tad crazy to give up being an attorney to stream full-time, but ultimately they all want me to be happy. And this truly does make me happy and content as it is my passion. Do they agree with my decision, maybe not but they still have been super supportive. I understand the concern among family and friends - giving up a career where you have a very steady income for one that is volatile, risky and where there are a lot of unknowns was not an easy choice for me but one I would make again 100 times out of 100. At the end of the day, do what you love. And if I never tried to go after my passion, I would have never forgave myself.
As explained above, I think I will need to get a better work/balance lifestyle going forward. But with any start-up business, it requires a ton of work, especially at the beginning. So, eventually, I do think I can have a balance that makes providing this content manageable. I plan to stream and continue down this path for as long as I can. I truly want to become the top and biggest voice in the Twitch Sports Space, and I will not stop until we reach this goal.
I am the least savvy IT person imaginable. I use Streamlabs OBS, Nightbot, and other than that my community has helped me with graphics, overlays. Without my community, with a special shoutout to my man Akify who spent hours helping me get setup, we would not have a stream or discord.
I did use analytics, specifically to see what time my streams had the most views, which streams had the most common views, and to see how I was doing compared to streamers providing the same content. Let’s be honest, in order to become a Twitch Partner, views are important. So, I changed what time I streamed based on analytics and when other streamers who I shared views with were streaming. I love data, analytics, and facts in sports and would be pretty stupid if I didn’t use them in real life and for streaming to help increase my stream and to get it in front of more people. If you don’t get people to tune in, you cannot grow. I think once people find my stream they will stay and love it, but it is not easy to get new people to find it. Growing has proven to be much more challenging than I originally anticipated.
There are no shortcuts in life. It is all about putting in the work. Be true to yourself, be genuine, passionate, and also do not just hit the record button. Think about what you want to stream and why… if you are just hitting record and expect to have a good stream, you are short changing yourself and your audience.
I mentioned it a little above, but the women wearing lingerie in hot tubs and sucking on microphones is a little much. I am not sure what these streamers are trying to accomplish other than making money, but to me it is unnecessary and we can do better on the platform. It is disheartening to see these women get all the top views when people truly grinding get left behind. Now, I am a tad biased and bitter here, maybe. But I also think we should strive as a platform to provide genuine content. This provides nothing of substance in my opinion.
My plans for the future are pretty much all stated above. I am on a mission to grind and work as hard as I can to become the leading sports voice on the platform. I want to have current athletes, ex athletes, celebrities, etc on as guests. I want to inform, create, and innovate and be a revolutionary voice in this space. I want to have honest, intelligent, and factual discussions around the most important topics of the day - sports or not. I just want to be a voice for the little guy who always feels left behind or not represented. I am tired of seeing the wealthy always win and demand more and think they are entitled to more...because I think they have gotten enough in life. I want to build a community that is kind, respectful, passionate, and one that truly feels like a family. And I want to help as many people as possible and give back as much as I can.