“The best version of yourself can only emerge when you take the best care of yourself.”
It sounds like a caption you’d find in an Instagram sponsored post, underneath a photo of a silky-haired woman sunning on a sugar-white beach. But in fact, it’s a quote from NFL player-turned-entrepreneur Nico Marley, whose company Lion X Wellness launched last April.
Given that he hails from that Marley family (Nico is the legendary Bob Marley’s grandson), it might seem only natural that Lion X would specialize in CBD products. But it’s Nico’s own story that shapes the brand and its offerings. Raised in a deeply spiritual home environment that included plant medicine as part of health, Nico went on to play football at Tulane University, and upon graduation was signed to the Washington Redskins. In forming his CBD company, he brings together the disciplined perspective of a passionate athlete with the naturally rooted philosophy he inherited from his family.
We got the chance to interview Nico Marley about how his life has been intertwined with plant medicine, from his childhood through his time in college and pro athletics to his current status as a brand founder, and what he’s learned along the way. And given the tumultuous time we’re living through, we also learned his insight for how plant medicine can help us bring the best version of ourselves to the fight for social justice.
Let’s start with your family legacy. What kind of wellness-related insight did you gain from your upbringing?
Herb is an essential part of my family history. My grandfather (Bob Marley) said years ago, “Herb is the healing of the nation,” and my family has lived by that saying ever since. My father would always say if you’re going to use the plant, make sure you use it for the right reasons. Not just to get high, but to connect to your mind, body, and soul. I was never much of a smoker myself, especially since I played sports, so I had to find other ways for me to connect to my body, mind, and soul. In college, I wanted to consume and use natural products for recovery, just like my family has been for years. I started using CBD as a way to boost my overall wellness, as well as something that would help me recover from my games.
Tell us about your journey with CBD
I started taking CBD during my junior year of college when the football season started. I wanted something natural that was going to help me get focused before a game, and help me recover after. When I found CBD, it was perfect. My family has spoken about natural healing for years, and this is something that could help me manage pain as well as boost overall wellness naturally. I call it the perfect storm.
A number of prominent figures from across the sports spectrum have launched CBD brands over the last few years. What makes Lion X stand out among its competitors?
We created Lion X to have something the other CBD brands don’t. We are the only brand that can weave together top-quality products, athleticism, entrepreneurship, and the Marley heritage. We’ve created a unique modern wellness brand made for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and everyone in between.
As a former pro athlete, can you speak to the benefits of CBD for athletes and fitness types?
Sports take a lot out of you, and many athletes tend to get hurt while playing. I found that for me personally, I preferred to take all-natural products and not prescription painkillers while playing sports. Soothing and cooling balms are extremely helpful for athletes that are seeking something to manage their pain. Topical salves are intended to increase circulation, ease aches and pains, as well as provide the athlete with some relief.
It says on the Lion X site that the company emerged partly from your passion for “the collective impact.” How do you define that, and what role does CBD play in it?
I believe that we live in a society where we thrive and survive on the “each one teach one” method, and the only way to gain knowledge is through other people. I had the benefit of having that experience with CBD, and I’d love for people to feel that impact that I felt. I want to be able to teach people about how CBD has helped me and how much it has other people recover from pain. Through this method, we can correct misconceptions and educate our communities.
Which of the Lion X products do you use most often, and why?
I love every single Lion X product we have to offer. The situation and the time of day encourage how I use it. In the morning, I take a capsule to start my day and promote focus to complete my daily tasks and goals. After I workout, I use the cooling balm on my legs and sore spots to improve recovery. It’s an instant relief. Throughout the day, I’ll get a gummy or two to maintain that focus. It’s also a plus because they taste so good I actually have to keep them away from me. Lastly, at night I use tinctures, which help promote my overall wellness and help me sleep better. Each product gets used equally every single day.
Needless to say, we’re living through a profoundly intense period with regard to cultural hierarchies around race, coming on the heels of a global pandemic. What words can you share with people who are fighting for racial equality and lasting cultural change?
One thing I can say is we need to keep fighting. We’re not only doing this for ourselves but for the generation to come. Every day we’re out there fighting for our rights, the change will get closer. As a minority-owned and operated business, I and Lion X stand in solidarity with the entire Black community. Continue to march, continue to educate each other, and continue to sign petitions.
How can plant medicine, especially CBD, help people navigate this important time successfully?
Growing up, my family said plant medicine connects you to your mind, body, and soul. During a time like this, I think it’s crucial to be connected with yourself on that level. CBD is known for reducing stressors. Seeking quality CBD at this time may help with the influx of anxiety and stress you’re feeling due to our current reality. I think CBD is playing a vital part in a lot of people’s everyday lives. People were reaching for it when quarantine began, and that’s also a huge reason we launched when we did. We wanted to give back something positive to our community. We wanted to be able to help other people heal the way we have. Even now, CBD is helping people heal through this difficult time.
I have to ask, what is your favorite Bob Marley song, and why?
I’m so glad to hear you’re a fan! Honestly, my favorites will rotate depending on my mood. If I want to get energized, I turn on Jammin’, but if I’m looking for a relaxing vibe, I turn on Coming in From The Cold. I love all his music — it helps me get up in the morning, relax at night, and even prepared me for a few games in college.
For more information about Nico’s new CBD line, visit www.lionxwellness.com.
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