Ball is life. Seriously.
The youngest of three blue chip basketball playing siblings, Luke Bonner grew up traveling the country for tournaments and All-American camps. He was exposed to the world of high major college basketball before entering middle school. His first letter from a college arrived when he was just a sixth grader in Concord, NH. It was from the University of North Carolina. That letter served as fuel for him to dedicate his life to basketball.
Bonner went on to follow in his brother and sister’s foot-steps, earning a Division I basketball scholarship. Following a magical freshman year at West Virginia University where his team fell a point shy of reaching the Final Four, Bonner transferred back to New England and finished out his college career at UMass.
While at UMass, Bonner graduated in three-years and enrolled in the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management graduate program. He was especially drawn into courses on sports labor law, college athletics and sports marketing. Throughout this time, he was actively advocating for college athletes through the National Collegiate Players Association.
Chasing the Dream
Upon completion of the graduate program, Bonner pursued a professional playing career. His first gig was in Székesfehérvár, Hungary. He then played in the NBA Developmental League for the Austin Toros before returning to Europe for a couple seasons in Lithuania. He ultimately returned back to Austin to wrap up his playing career.
Throughout his playing career, Bonner served as a regular contributor and editor for the creative writing website Flip Collective. He also ran annual benefit concerts back in his home state of New Hampshire and continued to advocate for college athletes.
After moving away from basketball as a player, Bonner founded the Rock On Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes wellness and creativity through the arts and athletics. He also landed a full-time gig at a top-level advertising agency, GYK Antler. At GYK Antler, he served on the business development team, ultimately moving into a lead role as the agency’s Brand Marketing Executive. Throughout his tenure, the agency has grown from 40 employees to nearly one hundred, doubling in revenue along the way as well.
Additionally, Bonner emerged as a leading voice as an advocate for college athletes. In 2014, Bonner co-founded the College Athletes Players Association and helped the Northwestern University football team’s historic unionization attempt.
Bonner has stayed involved with basketball by launching Rock On’s flagship annual fundraising event in 2014 at NBA All-Star Weekend. The event has sold out every year since and is one of the marquee happenings at All-Star Weekend–featuring artists including Girl Talk, Hannibal Buress, The Hold Steady, Michael Che, The Walkmen, BADBADNOTGOOD and more. He also runs Bonner Basketball Camp, one of the most popular basketball camps in the Northeast, and plays in Arcade Fire’s bi-annual Pop vs Jock Celebrity Basketball game in Montreal.
A marketing specialist with an intimate understanding of the sports landscape, Bonner has published articles for VICE, Complex and Mashable. He’s also been a featured guest speaker for SXSW, NPR, Harvard Law School, Al Jazeera, Comcast Sports, NBA TV, Drexel University, Wake Forest University, UMass and UNH Law School. His commentary has also been featured in publications including Fast Company, Elle Magazine, Digiday, Mashable, CNBC, The Rolling Stone, ESPN, The Boston Globe and more.
Bonner has melded his expertise and passion for player advocacy and marketing to help athletes, companies, academic institutions and leagues through Power Forward Sports Group.