When asked if he considered himself the “Jerry Maguire” of action sports, Steven Astephen laughed. “It’s only a movie, silly.” Astephen might be modest about his similarities to the “show me the money” guy Tom Cruise portrayed in the 1996 drama about a sports agent that branched off by himself with only one talent, but his beginnings reads something similar.
A college dropout, Astephen started his action sports agency, The Familie, in 1998 with one client, snowboarder Kevin Jones. But Astephen never grew up with dreams of becoming a sports agent. “I was exposed to the world of agents by pure luck,” he recalled. “More than anything, I was fortunate and blessed to be around smart people that helped me get started.” He had worked in the marketing departments of Mantra sunglasses and Lamar snowboards, and was in charge of managing those companies’ athletes. “I worked with athletes on the manufacturing and branding level, and when they had trouble with their contracts and I would help them out, and that’s how I got into the industry.” Astephen said.
Despite being a jock at heart, Astephen didn’t start getting into action sports until his twenties. “I played football, baseball and skied when I was in high school,” he said. “I had a skiing accident and the doctor told me I should try snowboarding; I was hooked after that.” He first got into winter sports but then branched out to skateboarding, BMX, motocross and surfing, representing some of the hottest action sport athletes such as Cary Hart, Travis Pastrana, Dave Mirra, Ryan Sheckler and Ryan Nyquist.
While being the first power player in the world of action sports might have not been his ultimate goal as a child, Astephen knew he wanted something more than a life he knew growing up. “I grew up in a poor family on the East Coast,” he explained. “My dad was a factory worker and my brothers are in construction. I was lucky enough to move to Colorado and start meeting people.”