As the young safety tells Boardroom Breakers, his “Year of the Ox Collection” NFTs pay tribute to his roots at a critical time.
It was personal for Taylor Rapp.
Eight human beings lost their lives on March 16th in a series of mass shootings in Atlanta, six of them Asian and Asian-American. The recurring but under-reported tragedy of hate crimes committed against those of Asian and Pacific Islander identity, a brutal reality of the COVID era, was once again brought to the forefront of our national dialogue.
Rapp, a rising third-year safety for the Los Angeles Rams, is not just the only active Chinese-American player in the NFL — he was born in Atlanta. He was moved to act passionately and forcefully. And his latest venture seeks to harness the power of emerging technologies to do right by those in his community when they need it most.
He’s launching a series of non-fungible token artworks, entitled “The Taylor Rapp-Year of the Ox Collection,” to raise money for the #StopAsianHate movement.
“The main motive behind launching my own NFT collection was because I wanted to raise money to donate to the AAPI community, as we’ve seen them under attack most recently — and really, for the past year since COVID-19,” Rapp told Boardroom Breakers.
Taking place across a series of auctions hosted through crypto collectibles platform OpenSea, the offerings include six limited-edition, custom-made digital art pieces, a meet and greet with Rapp, tickets and sideline passes to a Rams game next season (if and when fans are allowed), and a jersey, game-worn cleats, football, helmet, and gloves all signed by Rapp.
“We had a few artists work on the pieces, and have two different styles we were going for: portrait painting style and sports card style,” Rapp told Breakers. “The artists are Elena Provolovich, Ryan Darwent, and David Bircham. We loved how they came out, and each piece has its own unique Chinese theme paying homage to my story and heritage.”
In total, 90 individual NFTs will be available as part of the auction, which begins Thursday evening at 6 p.m. EST and lasts until Sunday night at midnight EST.
A portion of the sales will go to the AAPI Community Fund on GoFundMe, which has already raised over $4.9 million as of this writing to support causes within the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.
Rapp is no newbie when it comes to sports collectibles, so when the world of NFTs started to take off, the medium was an easy sell. And when the opportunity arose to do some good along the way, this project was a special kind of no-brainer.
“I loved collecting memorabilia as a kid, and now with this space of digital assets and digital trading cards, it’s so interesting and innovative. In fact, I truly believe NFTs will overtake sports cards,” he said. “I knew I had to make my own and get in on the market and raise awareness for the anti-Asian hate [movement] around the country.”
A second-round pick out of Washington in 2019, Taylor Rapp has played just 24 NFL games to date, but the potential impact of his activism on the long road to dignity and justice for a community that means everything to him is championship-level. It has no limits.
“The saddest part that breaks my heart about all of it is that the most vulnerable and helpless individuals are the ones being targeted in these hate crimes that we have all seen around the country,” Rapp told Breakers. “A portion of the sales will go directly to impact the community in a positive way. Of course, I want the launch to be as successful as possible, but even more so because of this motive behind it.”
The 2021 NFL season doesn’t begin until September 9th. But if you were in the market for a new favorite Ram in the Year of the Ox, take a long look at No. 24.