Dion Waiters, professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, has invested in Miami-based esports and lifestyle brand, Centric Gaming.
The organisation has told Esports Insider it aims to “make a statement”, in Waiters’ hometown of Philadelphia, that “gaming is something that is achievable as a career”. Waiters is partnering with Centric Gaming Founder Kyree Ware, who will be responsible for the organisation’s esports development. Watch Centric’s announcement video here.
On the investment, Waiters told Esports Insider: “Esports has always been a healthy escape for me and it is something I can see myself being a part of for a long time. I’m bringing that Champ Cheese Swag to esports!”
Centric will focus on esports as well as apparel. The organisation plans to roll out a merchandise collection named ‘ALL IN’ this November, which reflects the struggles both Waiters and Ware have had to overcome: “[ALL IN] symbolises what it means to take risks, and to give it everything you’ve got to get where you want to go in life,” the organisation told ESI.
Ware said on the venture: “Esports has always been a dream for me and I’m super excited to be doing this with Dion.”
Centric Gaming was initially founded by Ware in 2016 before being forced to shut down in 2018. Esports Insider understands that Waiters expressed his desire to invest in Centric Gaming towards the end of 2019. Now, Waiters is the organisation’s main investor.
Ware told Esports Insider that whilst the group is open to entering other esports titles, they are content remaining in just Fortnite for now. Centric currently has four Fortnite players—’Jelty’, ‘Adn’, ‘Night’, and ‘Kylie’—three of which are based in Europe, and one in North America.
The organisation’s primary goal is to give back to cities like Philadelphia, giving youngsters a safe outlet: “Through gaming we can provide an escape and open up opportunities for the youth,” Centric has told ESI. “Instead of them being outside, they can be in a safe environment and have the comfort of being inside their own home doing what they love.”
Esports Insider says: Centric’s emphasis on helping the youth in cities like Philly is refreshing and inspiring. Centric is entering esports with some big names in Fortnite, but it doesn’t look like this will carry over to other titles right away. An esports org backed by a star athlete is becoming somewhat commonplace. Having the involvement and backing of an NBA pro like Waiters will undoubtedly give Centric a solid foundation to build upon.