Game-changing, decorated veteran basketball player Ed O’Bannon digs deep into his watershed, winning legal case against the Goliath that is the NCAA; and the most recent wave of criminal charges handed down in the name of NCAA “amateurism” with his new book “COURT JUSTICE: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA”.
Ed O’Bannon was a star basketball player in high school before playing as a power forward for the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA, winning the championship in 1995. He went pro and spent two seasons with the New Jersey Nets before building a career playing internationally.
During his NCAA years, he and his fellow players were well-aware of the huge profits they were bringing in to the NCAA, while struggling themselves. In college, they were required to work at their game as if it were a full-time job, and forced to tailor their coursework and chances at a real education around the demands of their sport. In addition, they could have their scholarships–and their ability to attend school—stripped without cause. College athletics are supposed to be a way forward for a lot of kids, especially minority students, but only a fraction actually go on to pro careers, and the rest will find themselves straining into a future despite having brought glory—and substantial income—to the NCAA.
In 2009, long into retirement and a successful civilian career, O’Bannon thought he’d made peace with it all. But at a friend’s house, he saw a video game called 2009 NCAA March Madness and realized the kid wielding the controller was playing an avatar of him. O’Bannon’s likeness, his achievements, his style as a player on the “UCLA Bruins 94-95 team”, everything about him and his teammates but their actual names were right there making money for the NCAA still.
So, when he was approached by a group that wanted to help students today by fighting the system, he quickly agreed to be the face of it. The court case, which became a class action suit, was just the beginning.
ED O’BANNON led the UCLA men’s basketball team to the 1995 NCAA Basketball Championship. He received the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award and won numerous other awards, including the John Wooden Award and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, both of which recognize the best college basketball player in the country. O’Bannon was the ninth player selected in the 1995 NBA draft and enjoyed a ten-year professional basketball career. After retiring from the game, O’Bannon entered the car dealership industry. In 2009, he filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA and Electronic Arts. In a landmark decision, which was upheld by the US Court of Appeals, O’Bannon defeated the NCAA. He received no compensation from the case. O’Bannon, who is from Los Angeles, now resides in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife, Rosa. They have three children.