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Austin Reaves Talks LeBron Lessons & Adjusting to an NBA Diet

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Raised in Arkansas and ascending in La La Land, hear how the rising role player shifted his eating habits and playing style to make it in the league.

Search for photos of Austin Reaves on Getty Images and the trends in the results are noticeable.

At times, it’s tough to see his face as he’s often captured with his head down on defense. Keep scrolling and he’s likely being embraced by Russell Westbrook or getting dapped up by LeBron James. Dig even deeper and you’ll see shoe shots of his signature sneaker from Rigorer.

Growing up in Newark, Ark. — a city with a population of 1,180 — it’s fair to assume Austin Reaves never imagined being a fan favorite in a city of almost 4 million residents.

Austin Reaves
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

However, defying assumptions has been the calling card for Austin Reaves since picking up a basketball.

In only his second season, the Los Angeles Laker and OWYN ambassador has defied undrafted status to secure starts in Crypto Arena. This assignment comes with attention from various brand partners by day while being called on by Bron and The Brodie to hit big shots and make big stops each night.

To fully flourish, he’s had to adjust his game and his diet.

Recently, Boardroom caught up with the willing wing to discuss his changing nutrition habits, his endorsement deal with OWYN, and how LeBron’s inspired him to invest in his health.

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IAN STONEBROOK: Since arriving in the NBA, how has your diet changed?

AUSTIN REAVES: Oh, it’s changed a lot. Coming from the south? In a small town? We didn’t have a lot of guidance in that aspect. It was basically, ‘Eat what you want to eat and go hoop.’ We were out there running wild.

So that’s changed a lot. I’m trying to take more care of my body, eat the right things, and doing the right things off the court in my free time. It’s always based around trying to be better for the court. I’d say 90% of our time we’re doing something to get better on the court or doing something to perform better.

Austin Reaves
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

And you know? I’m even looking to go further with it so I can have a career further than a couple of years.

IS: Well, you definitely have the pinnacle example when it comes to taking care of health and longevity in LeBron.

AR: That’s a fact. You look over and LeBron’s been playing for 85 years. [laughs] I think I’d seen a stat yesterday that since he turned 38 he’s averaging 37, 9, and 8.

They say Father Time’s undefeated, but it ain’t got him yet.

IS: Has it been an easier transition having those guys around and having the team staff?

AR: For sure. I mean, it even goes as deep as the nutritionist. The chefs at the gym are making us smoothies and food to take home. Not meal prepping for us, but giving us the right things to put into our bodies.

And like you said, last year we had a lot of veterans that have been in the league a long time. For them to have done that, they’ve had to put their bodies in the best positions they can. I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people.

IS: One of the ways you’re investing in your health is by partnering with OWYN. How’d that deal come about and how’s it been thus far?

AR: It’s been over a year now probably by a couple of months. My team brought it to me and it was a great idea for I think for the both of us. It’s something that gives me the right supplements to go into my body before and after workouts.

And you know? The people that are with OWYN are even better than you could imagine. I’ve become really close with the guys that are a part of OWYN and I can’t wait to continue this journey.

IS: From a nutrition standpoint, is there anything you’re doing now as a pro that you never thought you’d do growing up? Is there anything you’ve had to cut out of your diet?

AR: Honestly? Growing up, I never was a veggie person. That’s growing on me now, eating the right things. I was a sweets person growing up, too.

So just trying to cut all that out? Like I said, eat the right things and do the right things for myself to be put in a better situation to be successful on the court.

IS: Your big brother and both of your parents played college ball. How did growing up in a basketball family shape your personality and your game?

AR: I’m gonna be honest with you, it wasn’t fun at all ’cause I never won anything. Being the youngest? It was a struggle. There was a lot of basement ping pong paddles being thrown. [laughs] It was always super competitive and it didn’t matter what we were doing. It could have been air hockey or foosball. We played all that on top of basketball, baseball, anything.

There were many times growing up where it was me, my brother, my best friend, and his brother. Us four were always together and we always played the oldest versus the youngest. So like I said, it wasn’t a lot of winning.

My mom would basically lock us in the basement ’cause we were annoying her. A lot of the time, it would end up being me and my best friend coming up with bloody noses or something from getting the shit beat out of us. [laughs]

IS: I think everybody with siblings or extended family that played sports can relate to that.

AR: Ain’t that the truth.

Austin Reaves
Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

IS: At Oklahoma, you ran a lot of point and played on the ball. Joining the Lakers, you’re walking into a team with numerous Hall of Famers and a pretty loaded draft class of guys competing for two-way contracts. What have you focused on or what adjustments have you made to earn minutes, trust, and rise above the pack?

AR: I think it always comes back to being versatile. Being mentally strong enough to accept roles and do the other things it takes to get on the court. Like you said, I was on the ball a lot at Oklahoma. Coming to the league? It didn’t matter what team I was put on, I probably wasn’t gonna be on the ball. [laughs]

So, coming here playing with the guys like LeBron, Russ? They want IQ guys around them who know how to play the game the right way. It was more defense last year, that’s how I really got on the court early in the year. Being able to not just guard the other team’s best players — ’cause that’s impossible — but kind of make it hard for ’em.

It’s always just being able to adapt to whatever situation you’re in.

Austin Reaves
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

IS: I mean, obviously it’s fun playing on the ball and directing the offense, but when it’s a LeBron, Westbrook, or Rondo telling you to cut it’s pretty easy to assume they’re right.

AR: No doubt, no doubt.

IS: Since coming on in LA, how hard has it been to balance keeping basketball as the main thing but also being open to opportunities in the endorsement or appearance space?

AR: It’s different for sure. Honestly, all I want to do is hoop. At the end of the day, my love is in basketball and I enjoy just playing and the purity of the game. The game is never figured out. There’s always something you could do to be better. So that’s why I play basketball.

But when all these opportunities present themselves, you rely on your agents and family to figure out what it is and know your worth. The kind of people that you partner with is a big thing. Like I said earlier, with OWYN? I’ve become really good friends with a lot of the people.

Whatever we do is just based on how the people are and what their end goal is. They’re a great company and even better people on top of that. So, big shout out to them.

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About The Author
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook
Ian Stonebrook is a Staff Writer covering culture, sports, and fashion for Boardroom. Prior to signing on, Ian spent a decade at Nice Kicks as a writer and editor. Over the course of his career, he's been published by the likes of Complex, Jordan Brand, GOAT, Cali BBQ Media, SoleSavy, and 19Nine. Ian spends all his free time hooping and he's heard on multiple occasions that Drake and Nas have read his work, so that's pretty tight.