Former St. Paul Johnson basketball player Ronald Fulford Jr. is making a difference using a sport he’s loved since childhood.
Striving to impact the Twin Cities youth and communities, Fulford (RF) talks about his organization iBALL4LIFE, how he got involved with basketball and advice for those who share his vision.
MSR: How would you describe yourself?
RF: I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am a basketball player that specializes in entertainment, coaching, training, and mentorship. I am the head founder of iBALL4LIFE that caters to the community of Minnesota through basketball clinics, charity events, school tours, student sports highlights, and branding.
MSR: How would you describe your basketball career?
RF: I started playing basketball in 7th grade for St. Agnes. I transferred to Johnson Sr. High School and played 9th-11th grade and transferred to Roseville High School where I had to sit out a year due to district rules, which pushed me to play traveling basketball and be involved in inner Twin City men’s basketball leagues.
MSR: How would you describe the way in which you developed your basketball skills?
RF: I developed my skills by practicing in my room, in the basement, outside at the park, alleys, up and down the streets, walking or running, just dribbling every day, and watching “And1 Mixtapes,” EBC games, Harlem Globetrotter footage and many more classic DVDs. It was and still is a religious type of routine and a lifestyle I had since 11 years old.
MSR: How would you describe your organization?
RF: iBALL4LIFE was founded in 2015 as an outreach brand company that specializes in reaching out to the youth and communities. Creating a sports outreach and entertainment company was always in the back of my mind. I kept pushing, releasing two basketball mixtapes in Minnesota gaining brand awareness as people saw my passion, the work I put in. Many people think that “iBALL4LIFE” means just playing basketball but it’s a slogan I represent. Every step you take in life towards success, stay balling out, in any sport or profession. The vision and mission of iBALL4LIFE is: I. Inspire, B. Believe, A. Accomplish, L. Live, L. Love, 4Life.
MSR: How would you describe the iBALL4LIFE October event?
RF: Our 2nd Annual All-Star Charity Game took place October 24, 2020. It took place at Mounds View Community Center. The 2nd Annual All-Star Charity event was dedicated to bringing awareness to Victory in Praise Church and raising money for their non-profit organization. The purpose of our events is to bring the community together through charity games or clinics to help youth improve in their skills through athletics or education.
MSR: Who participated in the event?
RF: Besides myself being part of the basketball entertainment, iBALL4LIFE was able to have Hot Sauce [Phillip Champion] and Bone Collector [Larry Williams] be guests at our event. Hot Sauce is known from the “And1 Streetball” ESPN Series, featured in the independent film “Crossover,” conducted his own streetball tour called Killer Crossover, and traveled with Court Kingz. Bone Collector comes from the EBC era of Rucker Park, Ball Up, and is a basketball influencer on social media. We also had Mayor Carol of Mounds View, Minnesota come as a guest speaker to give encouraging words to our audience and live stream.
MSR: What advice would you give to anyone who’s interested in following in your footsteps?
RF: The advice I would give people who admire what I do is to just stay focused on your passion and invest in it every day. This lifestyle comes with sacrifices and rocky roads but if you have a foundation of faith and perseverance you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.