How Rajon Rondo's Big Brother Became the NBA's Go-To Concierge
While Will remains very close with Rajon, it’s his relationship to that relationship that’s somewhat awkward. On the one hand, his business is built on connections made through his brother. On the other, he’s determined not to be some freeloading family member. People he’s worked with say he’s loath to bring up the connection, and when it does arise, he tries to move on quickly. “I don’t want anyone to think that just because I’m Rajon Rondo’s brother, you should use my service,” he says. “I’ve always been proud of him, I always acknowledge that he is my relative, that he’s my brother, but I’ve started a business on my own.”
Right now, Rondo says, SGT has 236 clients (about two-thirds of them are regulars), and including the NBA stars he’s met through Rajon, about one-third of his customers are pro athletes. Rondo specializes in arranging travel and chauffeured cars (he subcontracts the actual transportation component to a nationwide network of limo companies), and does everything from plan nights out on the town to arrange kiddie pickups. While most of his business has come through word-of-mouth referrals, his clients — even the nonathletes — can often be traced back to Rajon.
Take the case of the hip-hop artist Common, one of his best customers. A few years ago, the rapper was doing a show in Boston at the House of Blues when he started freestyling about the Celtics and dropped in Rajon’s name. Rajon, who it turned out was in the crowd, went backstage after the show to introduce himself. The two hit it off and became friends. From then on, when they hung out together, Will was usually around, too. “I would keep seeing Will, and Will would tell us that he had this business,” Common says. Eventually, he signed up. “I must say, the service that I get with Rondo has been incredible,” he says. And what qualifies as incredible service to a high-flying recording artist? Common says he appreciates SGT’s “personal touch” and notes that Rondo makes sure his limo is always stocked with the water (Fiji), gum (peppermint Orbit) and chips (plantain) he likes. (Note: This is how you know life is good, when you have a favorite type of bottled water and it always magically appears in your limo.)
Harvard Law School professor Ronald Sullivan has a similar story: He met Rondo in a VIP lounge at a Celtics game, liked his pitch, and now uses SGT all the time. “I have remarkably complicated travel based on my overcommitting to speaking engagements and having conflicting events in different parts of the country,” Sullivan says. “Wherever I go, he has a car there waiting for me.” Perhaps most important, “They remember my mother’s name without prompt.”
And then there’s Kevin Garnett — a client whom Rajon was obviously helpful in landing. Rondo is “very loyal, I like his work ethic, he’s trustworthy,” says KG’s sister, Sonya Garnett-Reese, who manages her brother’s affairs. She’s clearly fond of Rondo, but she says she’d dump him in a minute if she weren’t happy with SGT. “He was able to come to me because he was Rajon’s brother and he knew the type of services Kevin wanted,” she says, “but to keep that business it’s got to be all about what he’s doing; it’s got to be about his work ethic and the quality.” Garnett-Reese says Rondo’s experience with his brother has given him insight into what athletes need to be comfortable. For instance, she particularly likes how Rondo builds personal relationships with restaurant owners to ensure that, when his clients come in, they’re seated in a relatively private area. Then there’s how, whenever KG’s in L.A., the limo driver Rondo arranges for him knows to bring those special cupcakes from the place he likes. (Yes, Kevin Garnett is a cupcake man.)
Garnett-Reese, who is uniquely positioned to understand Rondo’s situation, points out that many pro athletes have family members hitching along for the ride. “But they kind of feel like they’re entitled.” Rondo, she says, “has the drive. Yeah, his brother’s an athlete and making all this money and whatever, but he wanted his own thing.”