Kanye West’s Donda Sports has begun to attract marquee talent

Photo courtesy of Joshua Mellin

Donda has evidently turned out to be much more than Kanye West’s tenth studio album.

After Ye released his star-studded project in August 2021, named after his late mother Donda West, he has used her name in the spirit of his latest era and for many of his recent ventures.

Along with his Stem Player exclusive project Donda 2, which has seen some of its songs repurposed for their featured artists (Future‘s “Keep It Burnin” and XXXTENTACION‘s “True Love“), Ye has also founded a school and a sports brand-organization donning Donda’s namesake. Donda Academy features the Donda Doves — a team full of highly-ranked basketball recruits — as Ye’s recent moves in sports continue to expand outside the lines.

Donda Sports first launched in January with its first partner being former Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown, who has become quite the polarizing figure in NFL lore, saw a compatibility in Kanye that others would see later on — looking to create “genius ideas for fashion looks for athletes.”

“We’re just excited about the Donda sports brand, and making this thing a competitive sports brand to the athletes,” Brown told Complex in an exclusive interview. “I don’t think there’s a lot of fashion lines for athletes, wearing fashionable and comfortable clothes, so with a guy like Kanye West, being able to partner with him and work with him to provide more creative, genius ideas for fashion looks for athletes in general.”

AB claimed he was the president of Donda Sports, and insisted they were hoping build a roster of idols saying, “Donda is about ownership, empowerment, and discovering the next superheroes. This is for the people who counted us out, for everyone who said we can’t— we say WE WILL.”

In the official statement made by the organization at the time of Brown’s signing, they gave a quasi-mission statement, where they outlined their goals to help artists thrive after their careers.

“Former NFL Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl champion Antonio Brown joins Donda Sports where he will join Ye and Justin LaBoy to bring an athlete’s perspective to all aspects of the organization,” it read. “Donda Sports was founded with the vision of providing holistic support to athletes during and beyond their sport’s career.”

Now, just about three months later, Donda Sports has landed two new juggernauts: Aaron Donald and Jaylen Brown. The former in Los Angeles Rams star Donald — who is widely renowned as the NFL’s best defensive lineman and recently took home a Super Bowl ring for his team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals in February — announced he joined the organization earlier this week.

When speaking on the I AM ATHLETE podcast with former football stars Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, Adam “Pacman” Jones and LeSean “Shady” McCoy, Donald explained how easy of a decision it was to sign with Ye.

“I think it’s a hell of an opportunity to open up a lot of different doors and a lot of different things outside of football that I wanna be involved in, that I wanna do, that my wife wanna do,” he said. “So to be a part of that, and be one of the best first athletes to be a part of that, it’s pretty dope. We’re excited about it, and we’re gonna see where this thing goes.”

Just days after landing Donald, Donda Sports inked another equally compelling athlete. Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown, who just earned a ticket to the 2022 NBA Finals that will take place over the next two weeks, announced his signing to Donda Sports via Instagram story on May 31.

It is currently unknown what exactly Donda Sports plans to release in terms of clothing or how they will support their athletes, but buy-in from the Browns (Antonio and Jaylen, not related) and Donald surely demonstrates how much potential the brand possesses.

Along with sports avenues, Ye plans to use the Donda moniker to branch into the tech industry. Back in September, he had trademarked “Donda” in hopes to release his own headphones, speakers, smart watches, jewelry and much more.

Although those products have not yet been made available, West still continues to seek trademarks for his ideas. On June 1, it was announced that he filed for trademarks for the name “Yeezus” to be placed on a potential amusement park, cryptocurrencies, stores, TV and radio shows and more.

As we wait and see whether Kanye still plans to continue fleshing out his ever-evolving Donda 2 album, it is clear Yeezy has other things on his mind, including sports and rollercoasters.

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