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Josh Childress, a former Stanford star and NBA lottery pick, is thriving as a CEO in his life after professional basketball

INGLEWOOD — Former NBA lottery pick Josh Childress always knew he had the potential to be more than just an athlete.

Over the next 10 to 15 years, Childress hopes to build a sizable real estate and investment portfolio that eventually surpasses the tens of millions of dollars he earned playing in the NBA and in the EuroLeague.

“That’s my goal,” Childress said. “I said that was a big part of my motivation in starting the company and really creating a business that I own and operate is (because) I want to make more off the court than I made on the court. … Not that it’s all about money, it’s about building but it’s always nice to have financial goals in what you’re doing and that is my goal.”

Childress grew up in Compton and is a 2001 graduate of Mayfair High in Lakewood, where he was a McDonald’s All-American. The 6-foot-8 small forward went on to play college basketball at Stanford before being selected sixth overall in the NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks in 2004.

He has transitioned to a new arena in the business world as the CEO of LandSpire Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm that is focused on revitalizing communities of color with strategic live, work and thrive developments that for example sometimes include daycare facilities to ease the burden of working parents.

“Even our name, LandSpire, is to inspire change through land development and land investment so that’s a big part of what we do and why we do it,” Childress said. “I would be doing myself and my community a disservice if it was only about the money. That’s an important piece of it. You have to have some sort of commercial benefit but it’s not the only reason. We’ve taken on projects in communities like Bellflower, which is very close to Mayfair, and we’re doing a project in Compton that we didn’t necessarily have to do but it’s about representation and being in communities like the ones I grew up in.”

Childress participated in the “Athletes in Business” panel at the LA Sports Innovation Conference last month at Hollywood Park in Inglewood. Other panelists included former Laker Metta World Peace and former Dodger Adrian Gonzalez.

Afterward, Childress, 39, said two things inspired him to transition into business and investing after his professional basketball career.

“First, my great-great-grandfather was a landowner in the south,” Childress shared. “So you can imagine that’s super inspirational at a time where African-American people didn’t have a ton of ownership and for him to provide for my family lineage through real estate was incredible.

“Secondly, my scholarship donor at Stanford University, John Arrillaga, was a big real estate developer up in the Bay Area and he exposed me to commercial real estate at scale, which over my 15-year playing career I was able to navigate and see a little bit more from that side so when I retired for me it was a no-brainer to get into real estate.”

After an international career that saw Childress play professional basketball in Atlanta, Greece, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Australia, he learned there was more to life than sports.

“I just envisioned myself as not having limits,” Childress continued. “I thought that having the ability to go from Compton to Stanford to everywhere else, I was able to do things that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a kid and so when I put my mind to something and set my sights on something, it’s almost like a why not mentality. Why not me? Why can’t I? I’m not going to limit myself based on preconceived notions.

“I’m going to go out there and give it my best. That’s what I’ve done in three years of my company’s existence and hopefully continue to build that over time.”

In addition to real estate development, he’s also a budding investor who co-owns a professional basketball team in Australia, the South East Melbourne Phoenix, in the same Australian National Basketball League that he played in toward the end of his career.

“I played in Australia for three years so I know the landscape over there a bit,” Childress said. “When the opportunity presented itself, the entire ownership group is pretty much based here in LA, guys that I know. Some real estate guys, myself, Al Harrington, Zach Randolph, John Wall, some NBA connectivity, it was a great opportunity for us to take that next step.

“We played for a number of years, John (Wall) is still playing and to be part of a basketball team and help guide that basketball team and help that grow is what a lot of pro athletes aspire to do and we had an opportunity in Australia.”

One of the most pivotal decisions Childress ever made came in 2008 when he chose to play for a team in Greece over the NBA. Childress said not only did that decision net him more money because of tax implications but also set him on a different path when it came to the idea of building generational wealth.

“It was definitely an early exposure for me in how to navigate the tax world,” Childress explained. “One of the bonuses of playing overseas is that typically the teams pay your local taxes, so when you come back home, you offset that by your state taxes and at the time I was a Nevada resident so I was able to get most of (my) taxes covered and that obviously increased the amount I was able to earn.

“It was a great lesson, a great learning experience and thankful that I went through that. I still came back and played some years in the NBA after that but it was a great learning experience for sure.”

Mayfair basketball

Mayfair boys basketball coach Steve Moore has known Childress since they were teammates on the Southern California All-Stars AAU basketball team nearly 25 years ago.

“He’s always been a hard worker, of course. You see the 6-foot-8 frame and you know he can jump out the building but you really didn’t see the work that he put in from the outside looking in,” Moore said. “(Childress) is a worker, so it’s really no surprise what he’s doing off the court with his firm and his outreach program and just coming back and paying it forward to us is really no surprise at all because that’s just how he is.”




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