Community VIPs: Slam Dunk | Torrance Memorial

Published on April 01, 2022

Community VIPs: Slam Dunk

Kiesha Nix lives her passions with a job combining giving, mentorship and the Lakers.

Keisha Nix

Written by Nancy Sokoler Steiner

Being of service is in Kiesha Nix’s family DNA. Her grandparents volunteered at their church, neighborhood watch, voting polls and local food distributions. Her son Kyler, a financial professional, has a ministry that supports those in need. And Nix has a significant platform to do good: She serves as VP of charitable affairs and executive director of the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation, the organization’s official team charity. 

Nix didn’t expect to hold such a position as a wealth manager at Merrill Lynch. She always volunteered to help with community relations though, as a way of giving back. When the company merged with Bank of America, Nix jumped at the opportunity to take a full-time job in community relations. “It was a huge pay cut, but it was my passion,” she says. 

Her first assignment involved supervising the company’s sponsorship with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Three years later, the Lakers approached her to manage their youth foundation. 

Its mission is to help underserved youth develop their potential by providing positive experiences and resources in three core areas: education, health and wellness, and sports. It also provides grants to other charities supporting youth.

Nix with the Boys and Girls ClubA fan since childhood, Nix grew up attending the Laker victory parades of the ’80s. She attended high school in Inglewood, where the Laker Girls practiced. “It was like a dream come true,” she says of joining the organization.

Today she oversees the foundation’s activities from the Lakers’ training center in El Segundo. Signature programs include the Junior Lakers, a youth basketball program focused on developing fundamental skills, teamwork, sportsmanship and positive community involvement among participants. Building Bridges with Basketball brings older youths from the inner city to play or watch basketball with LAPD officers. Basketball and health and fitness clinics, held with Boys & Girls Clubs at schools and parks, teach basketball fundamentals along with wellness strategies.

The Lakers Youth Foundation has funded the creation of four STEM labs including equipment and curriculum. The newest lab, which also received funding from the NBA, debuted in November 2021 at the Challengers Clubhouse, the Boys & Girls Club location in South Central L.A. 

During COVID-19, Nix has worked with schools lacking the technology needed for their students to learn online. She arranged for the purchase of hotspots, laptops and iPads for several LAUSD schools and after-school programs.

“We delivered an iPad to a 10-year-old in Watts who had never had a technology device in his life and was already falling behind in school,” she says. “His mom cried because not only was he able to do his homework now, but he was also able to watch the Laker game via Zoom.” 

“This work is so rewarding,” adds Nix, who also mentors youth independently and sits on the boards of several organizations. “It’s literally life-changing. We’re giving them hope and an opportunity when they can see themselves in some of us. Because not everyone is going to be the next Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, but I often tell them, ‘You can be the next Kiesha Nix. That’s achievable.’"