Ty Law is one of the most accomplished defensive backs in the history of the National Football League.
The 15-year pro finished his storied career with three Super Bowl rings, five Pro Bowl selections, two First-Team All-Pro selections, and led the league in interceptions for two years. He was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in 2014.
Upon retiring after the conclusion of the 2009 season, Law was faced with the choice that every retired athlete is faced with: What’s next?
Most former players turn to coaching, or the front office, TV. Many have found success in the food business, others have gone on to Hollywood. However, Law, alongside business partner and North Kingstown native Rob Arnold, came up with their own idea … a chain of trampoline parks.
Now, six years after teaming up, Launch has grown into arguably the top trampoline park company in the country, with 20 locations in various states with many more set to open in the next two years.
“When I was playing I always wanted to go into business for myself. Playing in the NFL for 15 years, getting cut three times, you realize that everyone no matter what your name is or who you think you are, everyone is expendable at some point,” said Law. “One of my goals once I retired was, I’m not getting cut anymore. It was a passion to want to get into business for myself. I think when you can control your own destiny in life, you’re in a better position.”
Law comes from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The rough, blue-collar city has had its share of ups and downs over the past century. Between crime and poverty, many of its natives have struggled in their upbringing, and many continue to struggle throughout their adult lives.
“Coming from the place I came from, an inner-city urban area, you’re always looking for a way to get out. As much as I admired athletes, I admired business professionals that made it out of the situation with their minds. I did a lot of observing and I knew after football that this was my ticket. My dream was to play (in the NFL) but I had a passion for business as well,” said Law.
Law made the most of his talents and made it out to live his dream of playing in the NFL. Now a businessman, he is proud to entertain families while also providing employment opportunities and a safe place for kids to play.
“It’s gratifying because even though you have your hardships, you’re still working. For us to be sitting here today and we’re still growing, I feel good about that. Nothing is ever going to replace being a football player, playing in front of millions of people, it’s a different feeling. I do get a sense of satisfaction in being successful, creating jobs, creating opportunities, keeping kids off the street. More so than anything that’s important to us ... to give people opportunities,” said Law.
The transition from the gridiron to the business world was not always easy, though. Law admits that although he and Arnold had the building blocks to create something special, there was a sharp learning curve at times that he is still working through six years later.
“A lot of times athletes, since we work so hard and especially if you are able to make a career out of it, you get to that point where (you want) the most success with the path of least resistance. You have your capital, you have your celebrity. The reality is that there are a lot of things that you don’t understand about business. It’s not going to be that easy,” said Law, who also felt that starting a company from scratch was a risk. “There are a select few (former athletes) that are doing their own thing, but if you’re having fun with it then you don’t look at it as business. I’d say if you take 10 guys, seven of them will go the franchise route. It’s like being a free agent, am I going to go to the Cleveland Browns or the New England Patriots? It’s a no-brainer, I’m going to something that’s already proven.”
Although nothing can compare to playing in the NFL, Law has found comfort in his new business, and has also enjoyed his time being part of a new team.
“As athletes, some of us have made enough money to where we don’t have to do anything. We’ve sacrificed our bodies and our families to play this game. You usually come out pretty dinged up. To continue to still want to do something is a choice. I can talk football all day, I played it since I was 7 years old. I’m still learning business along the way,” said Law. “This is what I do now, this is my baby. It’s like I have a new team ... the Launch team. I no longer have Lawyer Milloy sitting next to me, Rodney Harrison. This is my team.”