Within the years after the ‘93 capturing, Coach Ok tells Billboard he felt like he “was nonetheless lacking one thing.” However he was lastly motivated to return to high school after talking along with his former basketball coach and mentor in 2018, who requested if he had ever thought of ending what he began at Saint Augustine’s, throughout a tailgate celebration on the college’s homecoming. “On the time, my grandmother was nonetheless dwelling and that was actually my dream, I at all times wished to see my mother and my grandmother’s face once I walked throughout that stage,” the doting son and grandson says. “I used to be like, ‘Man, I’d like to get again at school to complete.’” He quickly met with senior administration to debate re-enrollment and revealed his plans to ascertain each a scholarship and studio for Saint Augustine’s College “that the children can say was theirs.”
Coach Ok first went off to varsity as a teenage freshman in 1989 and attended Indiana College – Purdue College in Indianapolis (IUPUI). He had obtained a basketball scholarship to attend Clark Atlanta College, however the one little one wished keep near his mother, who had at all times been extremely supportive of him.
“I grew up within the internal metropolis and my mother protected me,” he remembers. “She saved me busy enjoying sports activities, from every thing that was happening round me. There was drug dealing, there was prostitution once I walked out my doorstep. However she saved me busy and grounded so that might by no means assault me. My mother was at each basketball recreation. She by no means missed a recreation my complete life. I stayed dwelling so she may watch me play.”
Although he continued enjoying ball at IUPUI, the music government within the making tells Billboard, “I didn’t do too nicely academic-wise so I ended up having to go to a junior school up in Iowa. It was a giant tradition shock for me, like a very huge tradition shock. There have been perhaps 30 Black individuals in the entire city.”
However issues took a flip for the higher when a childhood good friend who he performed highschool basketball with known as him, saying, “‘Man, coach mentioned in the event you come down right here [to SAU] you will get a scholarship.’” After a go to to Saint Augustine’s College, Coach Ok tells Billboard he knew instantly that it was the proper faculty for him, “Proper then, I informed coach, ‘I’m coming to play ball right here.’”
He quickly discovered himself round among the harmful actions his mom had tried so onerous to guard him from all through his upbringing. “Once I obtained away from my mother’s home, the temptation was so robust as a result of it was proper there in entrance of me,” he says. That proximity ultimately led to the fateful capturing that left him hospitalized for months, unable to stroll.
“Right here I’m [suffering], a senior in school and I got here to varsity to play basketball,” he recollects. However agonizing because it was, the music government discovered his calling throughout his five-month hospitalization and subsequent restoration — which he says lasted about three years — when he started utilizing music as a type of “escape.” Coach Ok says despite the fact that his grandma died only one 12 months forward of his school commencement, “She noticed her grandson achieve success within the music trade, the factor that he fell in love with after his near-fatal accident.”
Nearly 30 years later, Lee is the person who found the Billboard chart-topping trio Migos, an artwork collector who proudly helps Black, dwelling artists and the proprietor of a “unicorn 1989 BMW M3 Convertible,” gifted to him for his birthday by his longtime enterprise associate and High quality Management Music CEO Pierre “Pee” Thomas. “Solely  of these [cars] had been made on this planet and I’m most likely the one one in the usA. with it,” says Coach Ok, who lately based a social membership known as the Uptown Automotive Membership to additional his ardour for classic motors.
He additionally lately based the Betty Brooks Basis, in honor of his late grandma, to supply community-based campaigns together with grocery drives, coat drives and back-to-school initiatives for these in want. “She was the glue that held everyone collectively,” he recollects. In partnership with High quality Management Music the group hosted its first-ever meals drive in his native Indianapolis on Could 15.
For Coach, incomes his bachelor’s diploma and receiving an honorary doctorate from his alma mater “is tremendous huge,” however he’s most proud to have launched High quality Management Music alongside Thomas in March 2013 after breaking into the trade as a music supervisor in 1997. “It’s the largest accomplishment of my music profession. We’ve constructed a model that stands for one thing,” he says. “We took satisfaction in nonetheless creating expertise just like the outdated Motown method.”
Coach Ok’s ambitions for High quality Management proceed to develop. Just lately, the corporate has been venturing into the movie and TV, sports activities administration and tech sectors. On the music entrance, High quality Management Music artists Lil Child and Lil Durk launched the collaborative rap album The Voice of the Heroes on Friday (June 4), whereas the Migos are set to drop their extremely anticipated album, Tradition III, on June 11.
And despite the fact that it took practically three years for Coach Ok to recuperate from the 1993 capturing and regain his mobility, he tells Billboard, “If I had been to do it over, I’d do it the identical method. These are studying experiences it’s a must to undergo to study life. If I wouldn’t have had that have, I wouldn’t be who I’m right this moment.”