How Napoleon Bradford traded a botched basketball dream for a partnership on Wall Street

Stephen Nartey April 18, 2023
Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 18, 2023
Napoleon Bradford/Photo credit Purdue Northwest on Twitter

With his prolific display of skill and scoring prowess on the court as a youth, many people knew Napoleon Bradford III would become a professional basketball player some day. Seeking to play in the NBA, he was equally in on that dream, because all he wanted to do was to play ball. Napoleon was instrumental in ensuring the Roosevelt High School basketball team won the championship in 1970. As a freshman at the University of Nevada, he broke the freshman records. However, his aspiration crashed when an injury he suffered during a sophomore season In Nevada ended his dream of playing professionally.

With his dream of playing professional basketball crashed, he was advised to focus on other eggs in his basket as a way to stay relevant in the future. This advice was a game changer for Napoleon, who moved back to Northwest Indiana in 1972 and applied to study political science at the former Purdue University Calumet, which he completed in 1974. He credits political science for most of the opportunities presented to him in his career and for his ascent to higher heights, according to Purdue University Northwest. His understanding of the bonds market was also nurtured while at university.

His first job after graduation was with the Dade County Finance Department, a stepping stone that was crucial to implementing his bigger goal. Through Napoleon’s knowledge of municipal bond investments, he got involved in multi-million dollar projects, such as the construction of sports stadiums, airports, and high-rise buildings. In 1982, he joined Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc. as the Vice President of Finance. In 1985, he decided to join a group of like-thinking entrepreneurs to establish the prestigious Grigsby Brandford & Co firm.

He then became the youngest partner on Wall Street with Siebert Brandford Shank, a firm that ranked among Wall Street’s top 10 in 2010. Napoleon worked hard and proved his abilities, quickly rising through the ranks. Despite facing discrimination and racism in the predominantly white and male industry, he persevered and succeeded, paving the way for other minorities to enter the field of finance.

Born on February 23, 1952, in East Chicago, Indiana, he was the oldest of three children. Aside from pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, he also enrolled at the University of Southern California, where he earned an M.P.A. in 1978. Today, he is one of the influential figures in the investment banking space.

Though he never got the opportunity to take his basketball dream to the height he wished, he found another way of giving back to society by serving on the boards of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s finance and investment committee, as well as the Western region of the boy scouts of Ameri

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