With the figurative force of hitting a powerful defensive lineman, Solomon Lacy III’s football playing days reached an abrupt halt. After a successful four years at Alabama State University, the bruising fullback earned a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons, but there were no calls afterwards. The NFL would not be part of his future, Lacy realized, but the skills he cultivated on the field and in the weight room proved pivotal in shaping his destiny.
Many sports analogies, Lacy believes, are relevant to business and life. As a fullback, he cleared the way for running backs to gain yardage, score touchdowns and get the glory. That is the definition of a fullback’s success. As an entrepreneur, he implements a fullback’s mentality – helping others achieve financial security through investments and launching their own businesses.
Lacy’s company, Fresh Start Financials Group, has grown from a boutique credit repair company to a flourishing financial services company that has helped clients attain more than $25 million in funding. He attributes his entrepreneurial success to the discipline, drive, preparation and resilience he cultivated from playing multiple sports. Lacy’s uncle, Moses Lacy, is a basketball coaching legend at Flint Beecher High School. His father, Solomon Lacy Jr., has an impressive coaching track record, too.
“Athletics provide ideal preparation for the entrepreneurial world,” Lacy said. “The skills athletes use on the field and court are the same abilities that are needed to excel in any profession, especially as a business owner.”
Starting and building a business is a grind that demands thick skin and a mentality that motivates you to keep moving forward, even when confronted with the inevitable challenges.
“As a football player, you test your body at a physically and mentally demanding level. You must train on the field and in the weight room, be disciplined with nutrition, understand your role as it relates to each play, and have consistent focus,” Lacy said. ““Athletes understand that certain aspects of business are similar to sports,” he added. “With proper guidance – meaning coaching – and experience, many athletes have the right mix of skills to thrive as an entrepreneur.”
At Flint Beecher, Moses Lacy guided his basketball teams to two state championships and 306 victories. He was inducted into the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2018. Solomon Lacy took over for his brother, and at an early age, Solomon III could be found in the gym dribbling the basketball and shadowing his father. It was football, though, that especially captivated young Solomon’s interest.
“I started playing football when I was 5. I loved the game, and wanted to be one of the best, so I would study videotapes of my games to learn and improve,” Lacy said. “Everyone figured that basketball would be my main focus, but even though I like basketball, football was my true passion.
“By the time I was in high school, I felt that football was the sport I could play in college. I believed I needed to wrestle to get stronger and more agile for football, so I played football in the fall, wrestled in the winter and played baseball in the spring.”
Lacy graduated near the top of his class at Beecher, and he starred on the football field. That led to academic and athletic scholarships. Mid-American Conference schools like Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, and academic stalwart Rice University, were among the interested programs. Lacy felt most comfortable at Alabama State, a Historically Black College and University in Montgomery. There, Lacy continued to develop the skills and traits that have propelled him to entrepreneurial success.
“I was a linebacker in high school, but when I arrived at Alabama State, we had the best linebacker in the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference), and his backup was a Minnesota recruit who was at Alabama State for a second chance,” Lacy explained. “Our coach switched me to fullback, which gave me the best opportunity to start.”
Adaptability, Lacy says, is one of the most important traits for a business owner, and a football player.
“The only experience I had on offense was a few carries in short yardage situations in high school. I’d played defense my entire life,” he said. “I spent hours learning the offensive playbook. I wanted to prove I belonged on the field, just as I strive to show clients that they are making the right decision working with me.”
Lacy was an instrumental reason why running back Jay Peck led the SWAC in rushing for multiple seasons. The bond they developed transferred from the field to the business world as they team together on selected projects.
When he played his last game at Alabama State, Lacy still envisioned a future in the NFL. There is a need on every team for a selfless fullback who also provides energy on special teams. The tryout with the Falcons did not yield a training camp invite, and there was no interest from other teams, so Lacy prepared for a future away from the gridiron.
“I know that only a small percentage of players make it even into training camp for an NFL team. Still, it is tough to face when you realize that you will no longer be able to play a game that has meant so much to you most of your life,” Lacy said. “Fortunately, I had multiple options. I was in the top five in my graduating class and was accepted into law school. I chose the master’s program in clinical and mental health therapy at Alabama State.”
After getting his master’s degree and spending a short time as a therapist in Atlanta, Lacy recognized that the mental health counseling field was not a lifelong career ambition. Still, he discovered that the knowledge cultivated from that education proved useful since it helped him understand how to effectively relate, connect on build relationships with people of all personality types.
Lacy’s time as a corporate recruiter at Home Depot was pivotal because he learned the importance of customer service and corporate structure, which resulted in a smooth transition out of corporate America. He applied lessons from each chapter of his post-college route, and combined them with the insight he gained from football. All lessons help him as founder and CEO of Fresh Start Financials Group.
“Athletes are self-driven and have the motivation to accomplish goals, set new goals, and never become complacent,” Lacy said. “As an athlete, you consistently set personal and team goals. Whether they are short term or long term, goals push athletes to achieve every day, and that same philosophy is valuable for business. Simply put, having success as an entrepreneur is similar to what it takes to excel on the football field. You just wear a different uniform.”