LeBron James once said, “I think the reason I am who I am today is because I went through those tough times when I was younger.” That quote by King James resonates with rising YouTube star and entrepreneur D’Vontay Friga.
With his parents divorced, young D’Vontay would find himself spending time in Florida with his father, Scott Friga, and in Ohio with his mother, Tawny Friga. But as he reflects on his journey, he was grateful to have found his home on the basketball courts.
“I wouldn’t say that I had a horrible childhood but I definitely went through some things that not every kid is supposed to go through with my parents being divorced,” he recalled.
“Basketball saved me mentally……Basketball was my therapy,” added Friga, who currently stars in a new reality series Saved By The Ball.
Rising YouTube Star D’Vontay Friga On Facing Adversity and Find Success
Searching for his Passion
Today, D’Vontay Friga has over 340,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel and that number continues to grow. Taking time to reflect on his journey, Friga says, like most kids, he grew up trying many things in search of his passion. The 22-year-old is quick to point out how grateful he was to have his older brother by five years, Isaac Friga, show him the way.
“My whole life he was always doing something different than anyone else – whether it was riding a bike, doing BMX, or wrestling,” said the popular content creator of his older brother.
“He inspired me to work hard and to find my passion.”
With his older brother dedicating most of his time to the sport of wrestling, Friga decided to follow suit. However, he quickly realized that wrestling was not for him.
“I went into my first or second match and I got slammed pretty hard and I broke my nose and got a concussion and I learned that wrestling wasn’t for the sport for me,” Friga pointed out.
While the door quickly closed on his journey as a wrestler, he was grateful to find his passion for the game of basketball.
Friga recalls starting out in the fourth grade.
“I played in a church league that one of my friends invited me to and sort of fell in love with the sport. I was never really good at dribbling the ball or anything. I just started shooting the ball and became a good shooter.”
The Pursuit of Greatness on the Basketball Courts
Growing up in the State of Ohio and playing basketball, D’Vontay Friga naturally became a fan of LeBron James.
“Being from the Akron, Ohio area, I always looked up to LeBron as a basketball player. Everyone loves LeBron especially where I’m from and I’ve always looked up to him,” said Friga about the three-time NBA Champion.
Growing up idolizing King James, Friga wanted to achieve his own version of greatness on the basketball courts and would continue to work hard to develop his skills. By his second year of high school, Friga started to see a major progression in his game.
“In my sophomore year of high school, I was moved up to varsity and was having a really good season and that was when I first started thinking I could play at the next level,” recalled the former Cuyahoga Falls High School student.
With his game starting to progress, Friga had visions of continuing his basketball journey at the collegiate level.
“I wasn’t recruited by a lot of schools. Maybe just four or five DIII schools,” recalls Friga of his quest to play basketball at the collegiate level.
D’Vontay Friga’s College Years
Ultimately Friga decided to attend the University of Mount Union – a private university in Alliance, Ohio.
“Mount Union wasn’t heavily interested in me. I started off on the practice team,” he noted.
He also recalls the frustration of knowing his freshman year roommate was playing on the varsity team as a starting point guard while he was starting on junior varsity.
“It was two different worlds in one room,” he recalled.
With the belief that he had the talent and skill to play on the varsity team, Friga was unhappy with being stuck on the junior varsity squad.
“I looked at my situation and I was pretty upset about it,” he admitted.
Friga would use that frustration as motivation to work harder with the goal of taking his basketball game to the next level.
“Everything I was mad about, I put it on the court and I worked harder to become bigger and stronger. And I was able to progress my game and throughout the season my confidence just rose a little bit,” he recalled.
“I was going pretty hard in the practices and started to average a triple-double on JV and a couple of guys got injured on the varsity team and I got moved up. In my first game on varsity I got 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds) and that’s really when my confidence sparked.”
The 6’2″ Friga – who played shooting guard, small forward, and power forward for the Purple Raiders – made the most of his opportunity and would be on the varsity team to stay.
By his senior year, Friga was a key part of the team’s success as he averaged over 15 points per game and five rebounds per game.
“In my senior year that’s when I made my mark on the team. I became 33rd player in school history to hit 1000 points,” he said.
“The whole four years of college was super up and down but it all worked out nicely.”
The Mount Union grad often holds his own in one on one matches against elite-level Division I basketball players and is leaving open the option of playing professionally.
“Most Division III athletes that are seniors can play in Division I,” said the former Purple Raider.
“Once you get to a certain level in Division III, it’s pretty top tier.”
Finding his Niche On YouTube
When he wasn’t scoring baskets and grabbing rebounds for the Purple Raiders, Friga was focused on his studies as an Integrated Media major. Wanting to share a bit about his journey on the Mount Union varsity team, Friga uploaded his first video during his sophomore year in which he documented a day in his life as a Division III athlete.
“I got 13,000 views on that first video and uploaded another Division III video and it got 185,000 views and thought to myself that this could be my niche,” Friga recalled.
Some of his fans may not be aware that Friga has been uploading YouTube videos long before his collegiate days. When he was in high school, he uploaded videos of himself as a good Samaritan where he was giving out to the homeless in his city.
When it comes to creating content for his videos, Friga says he’s inspired by Casey Neistat – a renowned YouTube personality, filmmaker, vlogger, actor, and co-founder of the multimedia company Beme.
“I’ve always been impressed by his ability to create a video and the abundance of storytelling in his videos,” said Friga about Neistat.
With over 340,000 subscribers to his channel, Friga is working hard to create new content to keep his fans entertained.
“I try to film one to three videos every day,” he said.
“We find out where we’re going. Do a one on one or go a park and then come back to download everything on a hard drive,” Friga added about his typical day.
D’Vontay Friga Living the Dream
Currently, D’Vontay Friga is touring the U.S. as part of his new reality series Saved By The Ball which will see the popular YouTube star travel from city to city playing at various venues.
1 or 2 ?? 🤔😂 pic.twitter.com/7qAURx75tZ
— D'Vontay Friga (@dfriga98) September 9, 2020
Looking ahead, the ambitious YouTuber and entrepreneur has goals of growing his audience into the millions and has visions of appearing on the big screen.
But Friga prefers to focus on the present and is grateful to just be living what would be a dream for most avid basketball players.
“I’m just grateful to have the chance to create content that entertains people and also be able to spread some positivity every single day,” said the well-spoken 22-year-old.
“I just want to continue to do what I love because that’s what it’s all about.”