July 30, 2022

In a July 3 interview with ESPN staff writer Harry Lyles, Jr., former SMU football safety Ra Kazadi ’22 talks about how the loosening of name, image and likeness (NIL) restrictions on college athletes and the financial freedom it generated gave him the wings to explore and grow as an artist.


SMU safety Ra’Sun Kazadi is a unique talent among college football players.

You might see that he’s appeared in 10 games over the past two seasons and registered two tackles and say that’s a stretch, but it’s not. Ra – as he’s often referred to by his teammates, friends and family – has talents that go beyond the football field.

He’s a gifted artist, and last July 1 – with the loosening of restrictions on college athletes making money through their name, image and likeness – Kazadi’s world as an artist opened up considerably.

“I’m able to do more of the work that I want to do because of NIL,” he said. “I can sell my pieces for more, and therefore, I don’t have to do, like, 100 pieces a month.

“It’s funny because it’s been less about money now. It’s been more about just working and growing, and just trying things.”

Kazadi sold his work before NIL restrictions were lifted, but couldn’t put his name on it, have shows or promote his art on his Instagram or website.

“It was just basically relying on people to know that I was an artist and then doing stuff for super cheap,” Kazadi said. Because of these limitations, he said he wasn’t able to sell pieces for much – $30 for a sketch, and maybe around $100 for a painting if he was lucky.

“It wasn’t at the scale, even close to what it was now,” he said.

Kazadi said he’s able to get higher prices for his work now because people know it is his and he’s able to promote it. The greater financial freedom has given him more time to experiment with his art and continue to improve at his craft.

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