Nicole Lynn, A Groundbreaking Sports Agent Pioneer

African-American sports agent Nicole Lynn will make history tonight as the first Black woman to rep a Top 5 NFL Draft Pick.

When Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams’ name is called as one of the top picks of tonight’s NFL Draft, it will be another watershed moment of Black Girl Magic and a historical accomplishment for 29-year-old Nicole Lynn, a chief agent at Young Money APAA Sports.

Lynn — who became one of the youngest female sports agents in the industry when she signed her first client at only 26 — will continue to break barriers as the first Black woman to represent a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft.  

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Williams is expected to be in immediate impact player as an NFL rookie next year. He’s “The Big Fish” of Lynn’s 22-client stable, which consists of mostly NFL football players. She also reps a few baseball players, among other clients in the entertainment industry.

In a field that is dominated by white men working for a few agencies that hold a monopoly on all of the prime, revenue-generating pro talent, Lynn’s been able to distinguish herself with a phenomenal work ethic, by embracing her culture and flexing bulldog negotiation tactics.

Her journey is a reminder that it’s not about how you start the game of life, it’s about how you ultimately impact the world.

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Lynn says she was the poorest kid in school, growing up in rural Tulsa, Oklahoma.  

To give you a sneak peek: many days I wore the same clothes to school, I didn’t always know what I’d eat when I got home, and lived in homes with no water, gas, and electric. I had to grow up really fast, so I essentially raised myself with very little parental guidance,” Lynn said in a 2017 interview

Lynn started working at age 14 and never stopped. Her determination and understanding of the Black condition is what caused Williams to pursue her as his legal representation. Lynn has become a brand, educating women on the game as well, in addition to her legal endeavors and providing her clients with opportunities that expand beyond the playing field. 

“Many players grew up in similar situations like I did,” Lynn continued. “They, too, have demanding families that they have to support and families that pull at them from all sides. I know exactly what this is like so I am able to relate to players on a level that many other agents will never be able to. I can also provide guidance to them on how to navigate their family and can be a voice of reason on how to never go back to that life by retaining their wealth long term.”

The other agents that Lynn recruits against have been in the game for decades. She says they didn’t take her seriously at first. But Quinnen Williams wasn’t sweating it. He wanted to change the world with someone who had a vision for his future. A trailblazer. She’s opening a lane for women and minorities within a growing movement of Black empowerment in sports. 

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“Never in a million years do you get a player this way. But (Quinnen) was like, “Yeah, I saw that you were waiting in the rain for this kid, and he didn’t pick you,” Williams told BET of her first encounter with the All-American.

“He was like, ‘I want an agent that’s going to go hard for me like that every single day.’ He knew I didn’t have a first rounder. I’ve never had a first rounder…I want to do something different by the power that I have.

This is what the kid told me. ‘So you’re going to help me, and I’m going to help you, and we’re going to make a change.’ We talked about Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, all these firsts, and he was like, ‘We’re going to do this together. We’re going to make history and make change in sports for women.’ Just super powerful.”

Lynn graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and Doctor of Law (J.D.) with honors. After tasting Wall Street as a Financial Analyst and obtaining both her Series 7 and Series 63 certifications through FINRA, Lynn quickly discovered that she wanted to do more with her talents.  She realized that the financial adviser is not the person that really does the day-to-day for the player, it’s the agent.

In 2015, she switched careers and completed law school before becoming the first female agent to represent PlayersRep, a Top 10 sports agency in the country at the time. Lynn’s bold career move was inspired by the opportunity to negotiate contracts, help players expand their brands, cultivate a nest egg for retirement and become financial savvy tastemakers. She does it in an unapologetically black and relatable way. She’s the Beyonce of sports agents.

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“Seventy percent of all football players go broke or file bankruptcy — like 75 percent, which is crazy. We’ve got guys making $100 million and they go broke,” Lynn said in an interview with BET.com. “That’s the reason I got in the business. It was not for money. I’m an attorney and I do well as an attorney.”

In 2017, PlayersRep was acquired by Young Money APAA Sports Agency owned by world-renowned rapper, Lil Wayne. That’s when Lynn’s career took off. 

It gave us an opportunity to provide different marketing opportunities for our players. Like the name just did something different, so that was awesome. Been working with Lil Wayne — it’s been a little over a year,” Lynn said in a March interview with BET.

Lynn has a solid relationship with Young Money CEO’s Mack Maine and Cortez Bryant. Her connection with Lil Wayne is rooted in a mutual desire to help athletes, rather than exploit them for every penny. 

“Lil Wayne is so great to work with, because he has the same goals in mind for athletes that I do,” Lynn said. “The reason why I got in the business is to give back to athletes and to help them transition out of football.” 

She’s been able to fuse her cultural awareness, intelligence, opportunity, creativity, fashion sense and an elite corporate aptitude to create a lucrative and socially responsible empire of clients.

This is just the beginning. When Williams’ name is called on Thursday night,  Lynn will have broken down another barrier.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.