Ricky Williams; NFL; Entrepreneur
In his 11-year NFL career, Ricky Williams was a Pro Bowl running back, a single-season rushing yards leader, and one of just 31 players in league history to amass 10,000-plus career rushing yards. And before all that, he was a Heisman Trophy winner with the Texas Longhorns.
But to many, Williams is even better known for his progressive views on weed. Suspended five times for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, Williams actually missed two full seasons on account of his marijuana usage. (During one of those full-season suspensions, in 2004, Williams famously began studying Ayurveda, the Indian holistic science, at an institute in Grass Valley, California.) And even when he was on the playing field, Williams was an outspoken advocate for marijuana, which he said helped him cope with social anxiety and a borderline personality disorder.
Now 45 and 11 years removed from his NFL days, Williams has parlayed his enthusiasm for pot into a budding business empire. Last year he launched Highsman, a brand that offers a variety of cannabis products and accessories. And just last week, Highsman announced a partnership with Ball Family Farms—also owned by a former pro footballer, Chris Ball—to launch a new strain that targets pain relief and inflammation, “Ricky Baker.”
Williams spoke with Fast Company about making the transition from athlete to entrepreneur, and why he remains a tireless advocate for cannabis even after his playing career is over. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Max Ufberg is a senior staff editor on Fast Company’s technology section.