Today we’d like to introduce you to Lamont “Tory” Stapleton.
Lamont, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to LA in the Fall of 2012 after attending college and playing basketball at Southern New Hampshire University. I’m originally from Rahway, New Jersey, but I’ve always felt a pull from Los Angeles, even prior to visiting. For some reason, I always pictured myself here. After a month-long visit in the Spring of 2012, I knew this was where I needed to be. I returned to New Hampshire for the rest of the Spring and Summer and got a job as a car salesman to save up money for my move that fall. I had no promise of a job, but I didn’t care.
I thought of a concept for a social movement following the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The divide that I witnessed around me inspired me to do something to try to bring people together. The movement was called I’m Just Different and essentially it was promoting individuality and the acceptance of differences. I figured I could use merchandise, photo/video content and events to help bring the masses together. I moved to LA, that spring and got to work. The company had a good run, but life and unforeseen circumstances forced me to put it on pause.
Since moving to LA, I’ve met so many great people and I’ve built up quite a network in the sports and entertainment World. I began throwing events and also entertaining clients for labels and sports agencies. I began utilizing my relationships to show people a good time in LA and I think that’s what I’m most known for here in the city. I’m one of those people who always get the “What do you do?” question, even after people have known me for years.
There were and continue to be ups and downs along this LA journey, but I embrace both just the same. Everyone is struggling with something. With that being said, in 2018, I created another movement called Struggle Is Common to help normalize the struggle and serve as a reminder to those going through things that they’re not alone. I feel that we can all gain some comfort in knowing that people around us are feeling it too.. We can all lean on each other for support in some way, shape or form. I use merchandise to serve as a vehicle for this message. For more information, you can check out www.struggleiscommon.com.
Most recently, I created a Prison Basketball program called Between The Lines. I, along with my partner, Darren Duncan, a former college rival, assemble groups of coaches and athletes to enter prisons and run basketball clinics for the incarcerated population. We aid in the process of rehabilitation, provide financial literacy courses and help with job placement upon release. Our goal is to reduce the recidivism rate and give our brothers and sisters a chance at redemption. We want to serve as a reminder that they’re loved, not forgotten about, and, in most cases, deserve a second chance at being an active and positive member of society. We’re currently working with a university to try and build an online education program with the prison as well. Our next visit is June 12-13 at Centinela State Prison.
I first entered a prison about four years ago with a different group and the experience was simply life changing. So much so that I eventually found it necessary to create my own company and expand upon the visits. I wanted to figure out a way to have a lasting impact on the participants of our clinics. When I ran into a former inmate who participated in one of our clinics at The Dime, one of my favorite bars in LA, and he remembered me and told me how much our program helped him in the last year of his 19 year prison sentence, I knew I had to do everything in my power to build and grow this thing.
I know I’m all over the place and I’ve spoken about a few initiatives, but I do feel that this information is necessary in understanding who I am as a person. I love humanity and I’m dedicated to bringing people together and helping to make this time we share on Earth as easy and enjoyable as possible. I’m simply trying to use what I’ve been given to pour into others. This week I might be throwing a party and the next I might be running a clinic in a prison. The week after that, who knows. I’m all about love and positivity and whatever comes as a result of those two things.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A smooth road? Not at all, but I don’t think that anything worth having comes easy. I’ve always made a way out of no way and I try not to spend too much time thinking about the negative, but I’ve had my fair share of struggles. Many financial struggles. Trying to chase a dream and maintain your bills can be a bitch, but I’m still here. LA also has a way of testing your character. There is temptation everywhere and it could be hard to avoid getting caught up in all of the Hollywood bullshit. I’ve always respected people with great integrity. I’ve only ever truly wanted to be a good person and to do so, I have to be a man of integrity. With that being said, I’m constantly fighting off things that don’t align with my purpose. That can be a struggle at times.
Between The Lines – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from others?
Ultimately I’m in the business of service. Any way that I can be of service to those in need. Between The Lines is what I’ve been spending most my energy on and we’re gaining a lot of traction and really making positive change. What I’m most proud of is our ability to assemble groups of dedicated individuals to volunteer their time in service of a population that is largely overlooked. No one is getting paid, but the reward is priceless. Everyone is participating purely out of the kindness of their hearts and I’m proud that we’ve created a platform for them to be able to do so surrounding a sport that we know and love.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Simple. Success = Happiness. My happiness comes from touching others positively, so my goal is to do so with every initiative. When I die, I want people to be able to say that I was a man of integrity who used everything he was given to give to others. Success = Inner Peace. If you’re truly at peace with yourself, whatever that looks like to you, you’re successful in my eyes. Fuck the money and material. It’s all about your heart and your service. Might sound corny, but that’s just how I feel.
- Website: www.betweenthelinesus.com, www.struggleiscommon.com
- Phone: 7324962291
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lamont_tory/?hl=en https://www.instagram.com/betweenthelinesus/?hl=en
- Other: https://www.instagram.com/struggleiscommon/?hl=en
Emarie Marie “E”