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Odell Beckham Jr.: Comebacks, Cash App, & Kin

OBJ speaks with Boardroom about Super Bowl LVI, a post-injury resurgence, his new partnership with Cash App, and becoming a father for the first time.

Superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. first discovered tattoo artist Joaquin Ganga in 2017 while on tour with Drake in Amsterdam.

People in the pop culture icon’s camp claimed to be hanging out with the best tattoo artist in the world, and the then-New York Giants‘ three-time Pro Bowler was impressed by Ganga’s portrait work.

“I remember saying I want to get Michael Jackson in the red ‘Thriller’ jacket,” Beckham told Boardroom. “And one of the other boys was like, ‘man if you don’t get it, I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna get it right now.’ I felt the pressure and said ‘all right, fuck it. I gotta get it.’ So it was after the night that we went out after the shows, we went back to the room and he ended up tattooing me on my leg. Then Ganga and I had worked with each other to create a whole leg sleeve, kind of like a legacy sleeve.”

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OBJ and Ganga have been working together ever since, including a 15-second commercial for Cash App as part of the mobile payment service’s first-ever brand campaign entitled “That’s Money,” which also includes separate spots starring Serena Williams and Kendrick Lamar. Beckham is seen getting inked up with an “I am who I am” tattoo on his neck — a phrase the 29-year-old said he lives by — and sending $7,500 to Ganga on Cash App.

 “It just became something that was really special, very easy, and very effortless,” Beckham said of the commercial. “It’s kind of the alignment thing, and Cash App has been very, very big for me in my life. The only thing about getting a tattoo is it doesn’t ever feel good. But it just seems too perfect to work out the way that it did.”

Heading into Feb. 13, 2022, things were working out perfectly for Odell.

Waived by the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 8 of last year, Beckham signed with the Los Angeles Rams four days later, hoping to bolster the title hopes of a Super Bowl contender. Just 93 days after signing with the team, he found himself inside their home base of SoFi Stadium playing against the Cincinnati Bengals for a championship in Super Bowl LVI. With 6:22 left in the first quarter, OBJ improbably scored the first touchdown of the game on a 17-yard corner route on a ball perfectly placed by quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Things were aligning perfectly until just under four minutes left in the first half when he twisted his knee on a pass from Stafford near midfield. He had to leave the game; the Rams went on to celebrate a 23-20 Super Bowl victory. Initial reports indicated a torn ACL, though Beckham said he actually tore it weeks earlier.

Three days later, his girlfriend, Lauren Wood, gave birth to a son, Zydn. He was a father for the very first time.

What should have been the greatest week of his life both personally and professionally was dampened by the need to receive ACL surgery five days after the Rams’ championship parade in LA.

“To have such highs and lows all in such a quick moment is not one of the easiest things in the world,” Beckham said. “Not being able to really walk or do anything, just kind of laid up and bedridden. To not be able to fully be there and comfort and love my son, it was very tough and emotional. And through getting hurt in the Super Bowl, you already don’t get to fully live that up, and then going about life after that, not knowing where you’re going to be in your future and what’s going to happen.”

It was a life-changing week for the New Orleans native and LSU Tigers legend. There was a lot to process and so much to handle, Beckham said. It was a challenge finding ways to balance the full gamut of emotions, from the highest of highs of the birth of a child and and scoring a touchdown in a Super Bowl victory to having major surgery and facing the uncertain professional future that comes with being out of contract and headed for free agency.

Fortunately, it was beyond doubt that there was a lot of love in Beckham’s life, and being around his newborn son unquestionably helped. But there was concern of about not being able to be fully present for Zydn right after the ACL surgery and the demanding rehab schedule that followed. That understandably weighed heavily on the new dad.

“He’s sitting here, he’s smiling, and he’s happy he’s depending on me,” Beckham said of his son. “But there was also a part of me where I felt I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be for my son. That was tough, and I felt I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be for myself. That was tough, too.”

Zydn and Wood helped him get through his lowest moment, as did a realization Beckham had from within.

“It was a moment that I had to myself, which was just surrendering to what life has brought you and surrendering to god. And that’s when I truly had found my peace and found my direction again and my way of being able to get to where I needed to be,” Beckham said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but never get too high and never get too low, and truly live by it. Once I started to live by it, my life changed and turned around for me completely.”

In late June, Beckham and Wood sold their home in the Cleveland suburbs for a reported $3.3 million. Odell called that residence the first home he truly had. It meant closing the book on what had become a bygone chapter in his and his family’s story.

“Everything about the situation wasn’t right as far as my ability to play football, and I feel like I didn’t get to be my best there,” Beckham said about his two-and-a-half year tenure with the Cleveland Browns after being traded there by the Giants following the 2018 season. “But I absolutely loved the home that I had in Cleveland. I literally wish I could dig 100 feet into the ground and scoop the whole thing up and go put it somewhere else.”

While Beckham is currently looking for a new permanent home both in life and in football, he said he’s in a very good place while taking things slow. Though he said he prefers to keep his investment and endorsement deals close to the vest, OBJ has reportedly invested in a varied portfolio of companies including investment strategy app Titan, Underdog Fantasy, fintech company Jeeves, dog wellness brand Jinx, Maker Wine, Spanish-language daily fantasy sports platform Draftea, Tally Labs, Pebble, ascendent food brand Magic Spoon, and fintech firm Kasheesh.

Beckham also reportedly took his Rams salary last year in Bitcoin as part of his Cash App partnership, and got into the NFT game with the purchase of CryptoPunk #3365  last summer.

With less than four weeks until the 2022 NFL regular season kicks off, Odell Beckham said he’s still trying to come to grips with football going on without him and watching things from the outside. But he also sees an opportunity –though it’s one he’ll hopefully never have again until his playing days are over on his terms.

“I have the ability to travel in August, September, and October all the way up until whenever I’m playing,” OBJ said. “I just have the ability to be free. And there’s so much else in life than football. Football is my love and I want to finish my career the way I want to finish it, but this is a special moment that I have in my life that I’m sure until I’m done playing football, I’ll never really have it again.”

Until he’s fully healthy and is ready to return to the field, the NFL universe has kept itself busy speculating on Beckham’s next destination. As his 30th birthday approaches on Nov. 5, OBJ said he has a few teams in mind but is currently just letting things play out; there’s no real advantage to doing anything right now other than maintaining focus on his rehab, getting himself back to full strength again, and being a family man.

“As soon as I’m there, then I’ll really look at where it is I want to be.,” Beckham said. “Where is a team that could have a need, or a team that could potentially be going to make a Super Bowl run? I’m excited about that process, but I’m more excited about just being able to fully get back to where I know I can be at and where I belong.”

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.