Justin attended LA’s BEST at Sylmar Elementary for almost three years along with his four siblings. As a young child, Justin wasn’t interested in or involved in sports since no one in his family ever was. However, that all changed when he entered LA’s BEST. He began to play every sport offered: soccer, baseball, football, and more. Although he did not know it at the time, it was that initial exposure to sports that would set Justin on a path to educational and career success for himself and his family.
Football caught Justin’s interest the most. He loved to play against his friends and other LA’s BEST teams from different schools, and his competitive nature motivated him to play every chance he got. Although Justin was never the best athlete, his coaches would encourage him to play different positions and keep practicing. He learned to value persistence and hard work so that he could prove what he was capable of achieving. Justin recalls, “I remember in second grade, my coach asked me what I wanted to be, and I would always say being an NFL player. LA’s BEST instilled that passion in me. I had a dream and I was encouraged to chase that dream.” His time in LA’s BEST sports fostered a strong work ethic and intrinsic motivation that helped Justin grow into the person he is today: an athlete and a business professional.
After Justin finished his time at LA’s BEST, he continued playing football throughout middle school and high school. As he started to grow up, Justin realized his ultimate goal wasn’t necessarily to be an NFL player, but to have the means to support his family. As a young boy he wanted to achieve that through football, and he ultimately did. His dedication, hard work, and love for the game earned him a football scholarship to Alderson Broaddus University. As the first in his family to go to college, Justin was overwhelmed with pride to have the opportunity for a free college education. Reflecting back on his journey, Justin says, “I dedicated a lot of time and energy to it and was able to put myself through college with football and help my family. It all started with me loving the game at LA’s BEST.”
Now, Justin is pursuing another one of his passions: business. After college, Justin attended graduate school at Mount Saint Mary’s University, earning a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Since graduating, Justin has made significant strides in his business and marketing career. He recently relocated to New York City in 2022 to seize an exciting opportunity in the sports-tech industry, taking on the role of Senior Product Marketing Manager at FanDuel. However, Justin’s ambition doesn’t stop there. Outside of his professional life, he enjoys helping small businesses by sharing his expertise and grooming his entrepreneurial spirit, all while working towards his ultimate long-term goal: establishing a non-profit dedicated to bolstering minority-owned businesses across the US.
According to Justin, his two greatest achievements — earning his football scholarship and his MBA — would not have been possible without the support he received from his family, friends, and coaches throughout his life. Justin wants to tell all LA’s BEST students these words of encouragement: “You can achieve anything you put your mind to. If other people don’t believe in your dream, push even harder and prove them wrong!”
Follow Justin’s journey! https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-zepeda/