Tarrant County barber Keyland Rodgers has always been a fan of NBA superstar LeBron James, nowadays more than ever. 

The 21-year-old Rodgers recently  received a “More to Life” grant from James in partnership with LIFEWTR, a premium water brand.

James has awarded $100,000 in “More to Life” grants to people who demonstrate a passion, purpose and talent in their lives. Rodgers received $35,000 as part of the “More to Life” campaign. 

(Alexis Allison | Fort Worth Report)

In his submission,  Rodgers told the committee that for the past three years he has devoted many hours and his own dollars to cutting people’s hair. But he wants to do more and hopes to one day open his own shop. 

“I’m just so thankful to LeBron James and LIFEWTR for this because to be chosen out of 8,000 applicants is just a real honor,” said Rodgers. 

Rodgers grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from Trimble Tech High School in 2019. Initially, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He attended the Tarrant County College South campus for a year and made the dean’s list. Then COVID-19 showed up, and Rodgers decided to take a chance. 

He enrolled in a barber school. 

“I just took a leap of faith there,” he said. “Something in my heart just told me to become a barber. I don’t know, I just always had a connection with going to the barber shop. Growing up, we never had a lot of money,  but my parents wanted us to look sharp.” 

He now works at the 1Up Barber’s Lounge, located at 2540 E Pioneer Pkwy. in Arlington. 

Rodgers was always interested in people’s hair and how it looked. 

“I liked all kinds of hair styles, but I didn’t know if I would actually like doing it. Turns out I love it,” he said. “I thank God every day for it.” 

Rodgers says it turns out he is pretty good at cutting and styling all types of hair. 

“Coarse hair, thin hair, I can cut it,” he said. “I can make it look good.”  

Rodgers said he had always liked making people feel better about themselves. 

“I don’t know why, but I always did,” he said. “Cutting people’s hair, I don’t know, it really did that and I really enjoy seeing the smile it brings to them, the confidence it gives them.” 

Even in high school, Rodgers enjoyed doing community service because it made people feel better about themselves, he said.  

“We had a teacher at Trimble that had us do work in the community, and I liked it,” he said. “I would go to Lancaster and work with the homeless people there and try to make them feel better about themselves.” 

It was part of a class, but then Rodgers continued to volunteer on his own. 

“Like I said, I always liked to make people feel better about themselves and I could do that there as well,” he said. “I’d go volunteer on weekends.” 

Rodgers said once he has his business up and running, he hopes to do more volunteer work in Fort Worth. 

“I love to do it,” he said. “I like to make a difference in people’s lives however I can.” 

Keylan Rodgers cuts a client’s hair at 1Up Barber and Beauty where he works. Rodgers received a career boost from NBA star Lebron James after receiving a More to Life grant from James in partnership with LIFEWTR, a premium water brand. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

When Rodgers realized, as a barber, he could make a career out of making people feel better about themselves, his aspirations grew. He would like to own a barbershop where he can use the best equipment to ensure he is providing the best results for his clients in a comfortable and relaxing environment.  

“That’s what I wrote in my essay to the “More to Life” people, and that’s what I hope to do,” he said.

James, too, has an interest in barber shops, and was part of a HBO series called “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” which “visits barber shops around the country to gather distinguished individuals who can speak honestly on sports, and more.”

James – businessman and philanthropist and NBA star with the Los Angeles Lakers – and LIFEWTR announced their multi-year partnership in July 2022, part of James’ ongoing partnership with Pepsico Inc., LIFEWTR’s parent company.

The “More to Life” campaign began in February of this year. The campaign’s message is that LIFEWTR puts the work into every bottle of water to help people stay hydrated and ready as they tackle “more” in life.

The funds from “More to Life” grants can be used for education, the creative arts, philanthropy, health and fitness as well as other areas to help people and organizations reach their goals, according to the LIFEWTR company.  

For Rodgers, that means working to open his own shop and to continue to improve his skills. 

“I’ll use some of the money for more education to take more classes,” he said. 

As for the business, it could turn out to be a family business. His younger brother, Marcus, is currently attending barber school. 

“We’ve recently talked about that,” said Rodgers. “Just talking about that is what makes me want to just keep going hard, leading by example. It’s just pushing myself every day to be better, perfecting my craft, and being a great barber.”

Keylan Rodgers bio:
Birthplace: Fort Worth
Education: Graduated Trimble Tech High School, 2019. Attended Tarrant County College and made the dean’s list. He then attended a barber college.
Volunteer experience: In high school, he worked with people who are homeless.
First job: Delivering Domino’s Pizza
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: “Always show up and be on time.”
Best advice ever received: “Don’t compare yourself to others, especially starting out. Because very often they have more experience than you do. You’ll have that in time. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Stay on your own path and get better day by day.”

Best advice ever received: “Don’t compare yourself to others, especially starting out. Because very often they have more experience than you do. You’ll have that in time. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Stay on your own path and get better day by day.” 

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. 

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Bob FrancisBusiness Editor

Robert Francis is a Fort Worth native and journalist who has extensive experience covering business and technology locally, nationally and internationally. He is also a former president of the local Society...