Believe it or not, but when you need to get swole in preparation for the NBA draft, and you only have six months to get there, they send you to Memphis. That’s right, to none other than Raheem aka Coach Shabazz! Case in point, Darius Bazley, a top recruit, decided to forego college and a year of playing in the NBA’s G League to train on his own with Raheem. The final result, he was drafted into the NBA in the first round of 2019. 

Bazley may have been uncertain about how he’d get to the NBA, but when the opportunity presented itself, he was sure he wanted Shabazz on his side. Having heard of Shabazz from Skal Labissiere—a previously skinny forward about to enter his third year in the NBA—Brazley began putting pressure on his management to connect him and Coach Shabazz. Bazley called Paul, the agent he shares with LeBron James. Paul called former NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller, another client, and an assistant coach at the University of Memphis. In no time, Shabazz was on the line with Paul.

Bazley arrived in Memphis on a Monday, trained that day, then trained some more on Tuesday. That set the pace for early mornings and high intensity. The workout was built around explosive movements and strength training, with Bazley and Shabazz in an often otherwise-empty weight room. Bazley soon placed another call, this one to tell his agent he was staying in Memphis for 6 months, after which he headed to Boston for an internship with New Balance. In 2018 Bazley signed an endorsement deal with the company that could earn him up to $14 million if he hits performance incentives. 

“I know where all the athletes who come to me want to go, and I know what is expected to get them there,” Shabazz said.

Image via the Daily Memphian

Other clients over the years have included brothers K.J. and Dedric Lawson, who played basketball at the U of M and Kansas University respectively, and Skal Labissière, who currently plays for the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Ever since Raheem Shabazz was a child, he’s been all about athletics. He played just about every sport there was at the Carver Recreation Center in Chattanooga. In high school he earned all-city and all-state honors in football, was the Regional Champion in the 200 meters in track, and was recruited to play for the Ohio State football team from 1999-2002. He then played for five years as a professional in the Arena Football League. 

Having lived as a pro athlete for more than a decade, Raheem knows exactly what it takes to succeed at that elite level. Over the years, he started sharing what he’d learned at Ohio State with others, eventually developing a passion for nurturing the talents of up-and-coming athletes. He now trains more than 1,000 people a month, both students and pro athletes in a variety of sports. Coach Shabazz, who is the father of a child with functional needs, also works with children with disabilities. 

Last July, after outgrowing his old space at 8551 Macon Road, Shabazz Fitness was opened. The new 4,800-square-foot facility located at 1170 Midas Cove in Cordova includes cardiovascular, weightlifting, and speed training equipment. 

You Might Also Be Interested In…


Stax Academy Alumni

It’s no secret that Memphis has given the world some of its more iconic hits and musicians. Whether it’s the blues, R&B, rap, rock-and-roll, or that signature soulful sound, Memphis is a home where melodies are made. A big part of that legacy is Stax Records, where big names such […]


This is Memphis Soul and R&B: curated by Tonya Dyson

Music has always been a huge part of my life from the time I was born. Growing up on steady portions of gospel from the church and soul music from the vinyl records that were found in my home, I developed a love that eventually led me to move to Memphis. I was born and […]


5 Questions with Marco Pavé

Marco Pavé is a native Memphian, gifted storyteller, and standout musician. Since 2012 when he released his first series of freestyle rap videos, he’s been performing and creating within the local hip hop scene and sharing his passion for Memphis, Black folks, and all things music. […]