My story starts on 22nd and Federal, which is an inner-city neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. We grew up in the Harold Ickes (a housing authority)—my entire family was raised in the Harold Ickes. Amongst that community was the Hilliard Towers, the Dilborns and Chinatown was kitty-corner to my neighborhood. I went to Haines Grammar School, which was in Chinatown. It was a tough neighborhood. However, not everything was so bad. There were a lot of kids in my neighborhood, which made it fun despite the dangers. A lot of creativity was bred in the Harold Ickes. It often looked like the Little Rascals—we were into a lot of shenanigans.
Thankfully my family was close-knit, so we stuck together no matter how hard things got. This was no small feat since we aren’t a small family. My mom has 11 brothers and sisters, so I had a bunch of uncles that were always taking care of me. My biological father was from the same community. We are deeply rooted in that neighborhood. Our entire second generation was extremely athletic, smart, intelligent and fun loving. It was a very helpful environment to grow up in that helped shape into the businessman I am today.
We were living in the inner city in what we called the low-end of Chicago and it was tough at times, but that strong family structure afforded me luxuries others around me did not have. When I got to a certain age my mother and biological father reconnected. He had been going back and forth to California as a musician—a pianist. Eventually we moved to California and I was back and forth as we transitioned from Chicago to Los Angeles and finally San Diego. I loved experiencing so many different environments because it gave me a lot of friends from all over and a variety of phases in life. I’ve always described myself to have Chicago-style energy and California swag. It brings power and diversity into my life and my business.
I come from a family of innovators and entrepreneurs. Whether it was running the street or in the corporate world we knew how to make a mark wherever we went. I learned quickly how to be strong and defend myself, how to be creative, and how to survive from watching everyone around me in their respective fields. That survival mode eventually turned into discipline for me—especially by the time we had moved to California.
California is a different style of inner-city but it’s still an inner-city, so you learn to persevere through those things. The sport of football began to grow and anchor my destiny in life. Football is in my family’s blood. My Uncle Reggie was a great football player. My dad held his own as a running back in high school—the position I would eventually play through college. All my uncles were incredibly talented. My Uncle Greg played football and was a professional bull rider, I came from very athletically gifted people and they helped me hone those skills. Playing tag in the neighborhood as a kid was a great blessing for me as an athlete because I learned how to make people miss the tackle which is a key component to being a great running back.
It also didn’t hurt that I had some incredible coaches as I polished up in California. Dave Sarvis was an influential coach. He would come pick me up every day, which was about an hour drive each way. He was a great coach. He taught me a lot about the game. I proved to be a smart football player early on. Once I got to high school coach Gene Alim took me under his wing and became one of many father figures in my life. He was a key component in my preparation for collegiate sports.
Coach Alim sat me down one day and laid my life choices out for me. That conversation led me to taking off the gold rope chains and getting serious about football. My brothers, Paris Corner and Golden Corner also helped me light that fire. I wanted to be a leader for them. That summer I went through the most rigorous training in my life. My running back coach Cal Knox was amazing. He taught me discipline and preparation. My high school football teams were outstanding because of the dedication of the coaching staff. We had amazingly talented players and I came from a storied tradition at Sweetwater High School in San Diego. We won many games and championships. The tradition there was heavy and strong. That also aided in my preparation for collegiate sports.
I was heavily recruited out of high school and eventually I would meet the first of two men who changed my life through college. Freddie Graves came to see me and we were two peas in a pod. He came in and he was my guy from day one—to this day he is still my guy. The way he immediately represented himself resonated with me. He never pulled any punches with me—a rare trait in college football. He took care of me the whole time. He made sure that I was going to be ok. From taking my SAT, not getting the score I needed back, then having to go to Arizona Western Community College. He stuck with me through the entire process. Eventually he teamed up with the second man who changed my life in college, the rest is history. I met coach Ron McBride when he got the head coaching job at Utah and brought on Coach Graves as an assistant. When they teamed up it was a no brainer for me to go to the University of Utah because I loved and respected them both.
Before anything was possible with football and my business ventures there was my mom. My mom is a real “G”—a real gangsta. I don’t know how else to put it. My mom, my Auntie Paulette, my Auntie Niecy—they all took care of me and instilled my appreciation and admiration for strong, intelligent women. From discipline, to being great and being competitive—a lot of that started with the women in my family. They are very strong. Then you have my uncles. My Uncle Reggie, my Uncle Greg, my Uncle Dwayne, my Uncle Darrell, and my Uncle Cornell. My cousins, Nikkida, Yuna, GoGo, Jmel, and Greg—I had a very strong family foundation to find inspiration from.
Football forged new paths for me starting with my coaches. Dave Sarvis, Coach Alim,
Coach Graves, and Coach McBride were all catalysts for making that transition to adulthood. Coach McBride and Coach Graves were pivotal in helping me make that transition into manhood. They were awesome influences in my life.
My fraternity has also been a major influence in my life—Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity Inc. My fraternity brothers taught me to persevere and finish—to accomplish something. That was huge in my maturation as a man.
I am still close to this day with all my childhood friends. George Rodan, his younger brother Gerold, Charles Starnes, Freddie Highball, and Robert Phillips–who was my fullback in high school. Frank Buckum, Andre Mitchell—these are my childhood friends. They have been huge influences in my growth. We all pushed each other to achieve greatness.
Once I got to college, I added a bunch of guys I played with. Sharrieff Shah, Anthony Hall, Sean Williams, Willie Burton, Poncho, and Sean Knox are some of my fraternity brothers, as well as teammates. These were the people who were inspirational to me in making DuVin Pintor happen. My brothers pushed me to be better, to supersede anything that was before us. I wanted to be a leader for them, which was a big deal for me. It was important to me. They inspired me more than they will ever know. A few more people who have contributed to the growth of DuVin are Hollie Despain, Steve Hackley, Dave Dalton and the DuVin Pintor staff.
Finally, my children are why I continue to push so hard to grow DuVin Pintor. My oldest Reggie Ameer is named after me and my favorite uncle. My twins—my daughter Willow Blythe and River Max and my youngest Forest are the loves of my life. A willow tree grows out of a river and a forest is the catalyst. That is my biggest motivation. I want to be able to leave them a truck load of entrepreneurship, experiences and finances so they can spend life being creative. That is my goal with my children. They are beautiful. We are close and we love each other so much. I am proud of them and I hope they are proud of me too.
Early on, after I wrapped up playing football, I learned I was not trying to work for someone while working for the state of Utah. Politics are everywhere and once I got my first taste of politics with a co-worker, I knew I was not going to work for anyone again. I was going to call the shots in my life so, like the rest of my family before me, I rapidly became an entrepreneur.
Running your own business is not for the faint of heart. It is a sacrifice and a learning experience of how to manifest self-worth and awareness while practicing strict self-discipline. It’s a lot to take on and you cannot be scared because you have to take a lot of chances.
I started a variety of businesses of things I liked and things I didn’t like, throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what would stick. I negotiated all kinds of different deals, winning, losing, winning, losing, pushing, and shoving my way to the top. I just moved back and forth with multiple things until I found my niche. As you grow you filter into your natural space. I allowed myself the opportunity to let that happen. I started reading different books about energy, focus and things that manifest positive, theatrical parts of one’s life.
Once I got to Houston a couple of lights finally popped on and I had a business partner who was key in helping me take off. We started an art gallery and that has since pivoted into what DuVin Pintor is today. Eventually we went our separate ways. I wanted to continue growing the business. Coach McGuire and his wife became my new source of help. They were a part of the drive to make it happen. They are the hidden entity of DuVin Pintor.
I believe nothing in life is coincidence. I found my space for DuVin Pintor in Houston randomly after Hurricane Harvey. I found my latest space in Salt Lake City during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both are natural disasters and the steady growth of DuVin Pintor has been a big attribute to the people I am around. They kept moving and we didn’t stop during those times—very symbolic of the artwork I display and sell in my venues.
Much like art, the universe is based on vibrations. There are good vibrations and bad vibrations. The people you are around can cause you pain and they can cause you the highest ecstasies of life. My outlook on life is to wake up assuming all good things are happening to me that day. I don’t wake up assuming the world is ending, or that the sky is falling. That’s not who I am, it never has been. I started listening to Abraham Hicks years ago. She is all about energy and finding that glow, that manifestation and being in control of one’s self. I will knock down doors to make things happen whether it is for myself or someone else. I am that man. There is a lot of doubt in the world and that energy does not win. I deal with constant progression. That is my movement. I believe the people who are around me are meant to be around me for a reason. Do not be afraid to manifest something you want. Dream about it. Believe in it. Talk about it. Say it. Bring it to life. Manifest things into your life. You must take on life with no fear. If you are out here trying your best, the energy is going to reciprocate.
I have two processes when I need that little extra kick to get my day going. The first is “mind over matter, feel no pain.” That’s one of my mantras from when I was playing that helped me to persevere. There are four words that I live by: loyalty, honor, respect and love. The bonus word is perseverance. Loyalty is an undervalued characteristic. If you are a loyal person you are willing to die for whatever that cause is. If you are a respectful person you are going to look at your situation and build reciprocation back and forth with the people around you. Honor is relatively the same dynamic. You are going to honor things that are dear to you and fight to keep them around. Love is the most confusing, but if you can find compassion in whatever you are doing, there will be honor and respect there. Finally, perseverance is the hidden secret in my book. It is the key. As Jay-Z has said (not sure if he said it first or last) “genius is not the thing. It’s not the product. Genius is persevering to not quitting.” It’s breaking the threshold of what you want, or the thing you need, whatever it is. That’s the genius part. The Wright Brothers weren’t geniuses because of the airplane, but because they did it a million times in order to learn how to fly. They never stopped until they created a prototype that worked and could be brought to life.