Chris Gaston, founder and CEO of Family First Sports Firm (FFS) is aiming to become a force in the basketball industry. Prior to becoming a NBA agent, Gaston found success in the industry by way of player development. He worked with many of the top players in the NBA, and both the college and high school levels. In less than two years as an agent, he has negotiated the largest contract in Sacramento Kings franchise history (5 years/$163 million) for De’Aaron Fox, secured a $4 million contract for Damyean Dotson in the toughest free-agent market in NBA history, and garnered Eric Moreland a deal in China that can reach near seven figures with incentives.
Gaston has also curated pre-draft training and workouts for a number of first and second-round NBA Draft picks, along with a few free agents. In addition to player development and training, Gaston founded the Houston Preps AAU Team, was the Director of Youth Basketball for The National Basketball Academy-Houston (TNBA), and was a marketing associate for the Houston Rockets. As he grows Family First Sports Firm his focus will be on empowerment, economic growth, and black excellence.
We recently had the opportunity to interview Gaston and discuss his future plans for FFS as well as his experience in the industry. Check it out below:
SAB: What interested you to transition from training to representing professional athletes?
Gaston: I never liked using the word, “trainer”; a trainer only works with an athlete about two hours a day. That means there are twenty-two hours left to help out an athlete. I helped athletes pick an agent, I helped with crisis management, family issues, etc. I was always more than just a trainer. I wanted an athlete to know they had a total 360º deal with me.
SAB: Do you handle legal issues, other than contract negotiation?
Gaston: I have a full legal team, but I handle all contract negotiations and marketing deals. I also have a marketing team, but I oversee all the endorsement and marketing opportunities.
SAB: Your client, De’Aaron Fox, just received the largest deal in Sacramento Kings history. How has this affected your personal brand in acquiring new talent?
Gaston: It just solidified me in critics’ eyes that I can get this done at the highest of highest levels. It showed I’m not some newbie or some guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing. It showed if you come to FFS, you can get everything you would get at a big agency.
SAB: What differentiates FFS from your typical big agencies, such as CAA and Excel SM?
Gaston: The first reason companies like dealing with us is because they can get in contact with us. At big sports firms, there are email chains with over twenty people on them, and it becomes confusing. At FFS, you’re going to get individualized attention; you’re not just going to be a number on the board. Family First is simply Family First.
SAB: Are there any Covid-19 challenges you have experienced so far with your negotiations/business model?
Gaston: We think on the fly here: the first thing we did was change everything to a virtual platform. All meetings and proposals were done online. We had to get creative with these during this time to show we can be better.
SAB: Do you believe your original status as an athletic trainer gave you a competitive advantage when signing some of your athletes?
Gaston: 100%. A lot of agents tried to use it against me by saying, “Oh, I’m just a trainer.” What person is more qualified than one who has played the game and knows the ins and outs? A majority of these agents never played a basketball game in their life. I’m looking at a player’s perspective and I can grasp a better understanding of their needs.
SAB: One of your core values is emphasizing black excellence, what specific initiatives are you and your athletes taking to carry out this commitment?
Gaston: We were big on exercising the right to vote. We were also very avid about speaking out against social injustice and promoting the movement. We participated in marches in Sacramento and Houston. My wife has a foundation, Big Sister, Little Sister, which looks to support HBCUs. Lastly, we like to hire minorities and give them a chance in an industry that was once shut off from them.
SAB: How was Houston, TX, as a basketball hub starting up?
Gaston: It is a great area: Houston was a hot bed with a string of athletes coming out of here, such as Kelly Oubre Jr. and Justise Winslow. It’s a nice area with emerging talent in the south.
SAB: Do you emphasize to your athletes to work with local communities?
Gaston: Absolutely. We remind them to go back to their roots and help out in their communities. One of our athletes [Damyean Dotson] went to the same high school (Yates) as George Floyd and participated in peaceful marches in his honor and put on a number of free camps for his local Houston communities.
SAB: What do you see as the ceiling for African Americans entering the sports agency?
Gaston: As Beyoncé’s daughter, Blue Ivy, says it in a song, “there are no ceilings.”
Gaston is a rising star in the industry who is eager to elevate his game to the highest level.
For more information and to stay up-to-date with Family First Sports, check out their website here and follow FFS on Twitter. You can also follow Chris here.