Former NFL Blocker Winston Justice Powers Path to Wealth Management
Winston Justice needed to get out of his own way to become one of the more fruitful athletes off the gridiron.
Growing up in Long Beach, California, Justice was plagued with a speech impediment and was diagnosed as dyslexic when he attended Southern California.
"I'm bad on both sides, so even if I know, it's just that I have so much information to get out sometimes and it gets stuck, and I try to pull it out in a way that it is effective," Justice said on his speech. "But, you know, it's something that I always work with."
Through the years, though, Justice wasn't crestfallen from the cards he was dealt, as he was blessed with being born in a tribal-like family from Barbados that worked diligently with him, including sending him to speech class to fight the good fight of stuttering. Justice's mother and father, specifically, are from Barbados. Justice grew up with his creators as well as with his sister, cousins, aunts and grandparents.
And there is no family like the family from Barbados, Justice implicated.
"Growing up in Long Beach, there wasn't any other families from Barbados, one," Justice said. "Two, when you are a Bajan family and you have relatives that come visit, they come visit, and they stay for like, years. So it's crowded."
Justice went on to play football for the USC Trojans and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round, pick 39, in the 2006 NFL Draft, when he would ultimately play for the City of Brotherly Love as an offensive tackle until 2011. His career spanned eight years, playing for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 and the Denver Broncos in 2013.
Still, Justice wanted something more. And his time growing up in Long Beach and his football career prepared him to venture into a financial career. There was a reason Justice was methodically prepping for a productive career well after football.
"I started preparing for football when I was playing, one because I always thought I was going to be cut, and then two, I never wanted to have football be the best time in my life," Justice said. "I just didn't want football to be the best time of my life. I still always want to be growing as a human being. And I still feel like I have a lot to contribute even after I hung up my cleats. I realized that I liked the world of business and investment while I was playing. And I felt like I was at a disadvantage."
While hurling his burly frame and blocking for the likes of Pro Bowl quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, the Bajan football player was reaching out to athletes that were more successful off the field than when they were actually playing the game. Justice's father-in-law instructed to do so and was in the ear of the former Eagle to ensure using football as a way to navigate life after pigskin took precedence.
Some of the athletes Justice reached out and gleaned business advice were from former NBA stars Grant Hill and Jamal Mashburn, who happened to be one of the more pivotal business leaders Justice has come across.
"Jamal Mashburn, in particular, me and him really hit it off," Justice said. "He was actually one of my biggest mentors. He's still a mentor to me today."
The impervious lineman while playing with the Eagles was managing a small venture capital firm with Mashburn in 2011, investing in a few small companies, which catapulted his business skills to good use after graduating at George Washington University with an MBA in 2012. Along the way, Justice learned a lot from Mashburn, but he came to a realization that working a small venture capital firm just wasn't for him.
The 6'6", 317-pound former blocker started to draw an interest to the public eye of the market, especially after finding out venture capitalism had too many varying circumstances.
"One, it was too much of a gut feeling, and it was too many factors that you had no control over, and that's just for me," Justice continued. "Some people are great at it, but it's just so many different attributes that you just can't know. It's too much in the early stage of it. Whereas, a business that's more established, especially if it's publicly traded, you have so much past data to go off of rather than a lot of speculation. And some people really have a knack to judge and assess those small venture management teams that actually run the business. Whereas I just didn't think it was for me. So I let other people at that sector have that sector, rather than me."
Since Justice started professional football, business has always been for him. One of the first businesses Justice was in was a startup coffee shop in Philly, which the then Eagles player partnered with his brother-in-law in 2008. Winston and his wife's family went on mission trips all around the world, drinking all kinds of coffee. Exposed to all the great-tasting coffee was the spark for the Philadelphia venture.
The venture became so successful that seeds have already been planted to start a similar business in Nashville, where Justice and his wife reside at now. But those business plans have been temporarily halted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
What wasn't halted was Justice's ambition to succeed even after an NFL team didn't clear him to play. After playing with the Broncos in 2013, Justice tried to suit up for the Arizona Cardinals in 2014, only to fail the physical on a Thursday. But he had something up his sleeve the very next week.
"I remember starting off with Wells Fargo (2014-2016) on Tuesday," Justice said. "And that portfolio manager was a long-only portfolio. ... And we just bought the underlying stocks and we just skewed it to different sectors. We skewed it to healthcare, or utilities or business stocks. And then we sold that internally to Advisors, which I did great. I got to learn a lot from my group there. And that group was based out in Naples, Florida."
It was at this time that Justice had learned he wanted to work in the hedge fund space. In 2016, the football player turned financial savant became a portfolio manager for an alternative platform at Pacific Income Advisers thanks to mentor and CEO of the firm, Lloyd McAdams, recruiting him. He also at this time obtained the Certified Investment Management Analyst certification.
And just last year (2019), Justice was hired at AllianceBernstein, a private wealth group, in Nashville, Tennessee. Winston has goals for all of these wealth jobs.
"One of the things I realized is that finances are extremely intimate," Winston pointedly noted. "And one of the reasons why I left the hedge fund space is because I wanted to put more of an impact on the lives that my business affects. I thought the hedge fund affected people's lives, but this is like direct to people's lives. And for you to go into somebody's living room and talk about their finances is a really intimate place to be in. And you can really help build a family's legacy and wealth and something the family really cares about because that's how they express themselves with the world.
"And also we work with a lot of endowments and foundations and nonprofits, so the ability to connect finances, doing good for the community around you is like an awesome connection; that's something I didn't realize there until it kind of happened. I can use the gifts of finance to create a portfolio for a foundation to help build legacy of giving finances back to people that need it. That's a big bulk of our business, is doing good through business."
The money professional is also adept to giving back to the community. Justice is on the board of Y-CAP ‑‑ which is connected to YMCA ‑‑ and oversees Young Black Achievers and Young Latino Achievers ‑‑ two mentorships that provide youngsters college prep.
Additionally, Justice is a part of the National Symphony Orchestra, the National Coaching Coalition and coaches his daughter's soccer team.
"I thought a lot of speakers in my life and I still use a lot of what they tell me today …" Justice said. "And I think they are a really big part in the growth of our youth today, even if you don't make it to the NFL. Almost everyone played in some type of league sports and I think coaches can really form a lot of that thinking. So what this group does is just help equip coaches from all different levels to really grow and help foster a lot of the youth."
These boards impacting the youth and the investment firms giving Justice a good life after football is all that he hearkens back on, though each and every obstacle he has overcome has propelled the kid from Long Beach into the business professional of today, portending success for years to come.