NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Lloyd Lake has often displayed a flair for entrepreneurship, trying to turn big dreams into big money.
Lake, 35, has worked in the rap music industry. He has dabbled in real estate ventures, concentrating on land development in his hometown of San Diego. Most recently, Lake and childhood friend Faizon Love (both pictured above, Lake left), who co-starred in the 2009 film Couples Retreat, have produced a reality television show on
Of course, USC football fans recognize Lake's name for other reasons.
They will point out Lake is a convicted felon who is embroiled in a legal battle with 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. Lake sued Bush and his parents in October 2007, seeking almost $300,000 in cash and goods he said was lent and spent on their behalf in a failed marketing venture.
Bush has repeatedly denied that he and his family received extra benefits from Lake during his sophomore and junior seasons at USC. Bush elected to forgo his senior season at USC and declared himself eligible for the 2006 NFL Draft, where he was selected second overall by the New Orleans Saints.
Bush voluntarily met with NCAA investigators last summer prior to the 2009 NFL season to discuss allegations of receiving extra benefits from Lake and other marketing representatives.
After nearly a four-year NCAA investigation that started in April 2006 and combined allegations that Bush and former Trojans basketball player O.J. Mayo received extra benefits while competing for the Trojans, USC officials met with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions last Thursday in Tempe, Ariz. The hearing was scheduled to run through Saturday.
USC's contingent included former football head coach Pete Carroll, Athletic Director Mike Garrett and school President Steven Sample.
USC has already imposed sanctions on its basketball program for violations that occurred during Mayo's one-season stay with the Trojans in 2007-08. The committee will determine if more are warranted, what penalties, if any, the football program faces, and whether any combined violations in the athletics program constituted a lack of institutional control.
Bush, attending the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, told The Los Angeles Times Thursday he couldn't talk specifics but said, "I 've tried to do everything I can, on my part, to help USC out."
He also added: "It's just so unfortunate that you have people who, when you're on top, they want to bring you down, they want to see you fall. That's part of maturing. When you're in college you don't know. It's tough for any college kid to make mature decisions."
According to typical NCAA procedures, if sanctions are necessary, they will be determined and then made public via a news conference within six to eight weeks of the hearing.
If the NCAA finds Bush or his family accepted improper benefits in violation of its rules, Bush could be declared retroactively ineligible, and USC might have to forfeit games in which he played. Bush also may have to give up his Heisman Trophy.
Lake's intentions haven't wavered.
All he wants is his money -- be it by a settlement with Bush or awarded through a favorable court ruling -- and Lake says that's all he has ever asked from Bush.
Lake said he never wanted to jeopardize Bush's 2005 Heisman Trophy or USC's 2004 BCS national title. Lake believed the proposed marketing agency with Bush as the marquee client was a way out of his past, troubled life.
This was business.
"It has never been about the Heisman or USC," Lake recently told FanHouse.
"I had a business deal with Reggie. This should have been resolved a long time ago. The best-case scenario for all involved probably is we settle it but it has to be right. But part of me also says we've fought 11 rounds and it's now the 12th and final round -- we might as well keep the fight going until the end."
Ruling Favors Lake
Lake's suit has been long tied up in legal wrangling between opposing attorneys for each side, but a recent ruling in Lake's favor has opened the way for depositions of Carroll -- he resigned in January to become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks -- Bush, Bush's family and other potential witnesses in the suit.
Carroll told The Los Angeles Times that his decision to become the Seahawks' head coach wasn't in reaction to possible sanctions the Trojans' program faces as a result of the NCAA's investigation over whether players, including Bush, may have received improper benefits.
"Not in any way," Carroll told the newspaper. "Because I know where we stand. It's just a process we have to go through. We know we've fought hard to do right."
Lake, a Bush friend from San Diego, says he gave Bush and his family $291,600 in cash, living arrangements and other benefits between November 2004 and January 2006 as part of a verbal agreement he and business partner Michael Michaels had with Bush, his stepfather, LaMar Griffin, and his mother, Denise Griffin, to launch San Diego-based New Era Sports and Entertainment.
LaMar worked as a security guard at a local high school and as a minister at a church in San Diego. Denise worked at the Humane Society and later as a correctional officer and deputy sheriff.
Bush reached an out-of-court settlement for reportedly $300,000 with Michaels in 2007 in which Michaels agreed not to publicly talk about the case. Lake said Bush also sought to settle the financial matter with him in late 2007, offering as much as $100,000, but the pair was never able to reach an agreement.
Bush angered Lake when he accused Lake and Michaels of extortion in an interview aired September 2007 on ESPN's Outside the Lines.
In October 2007, Yahoo! Sports reported that the FBI briefly investigated claims of extortion, including interviewing several of Lake's family members and acquaintances before a federal grand jury. After the depositions, a federal source told Yahoo! that the FBI would not be pursuing the extortion claims.
"We could never be friends again because I can't forgive Reggie for that," Lake said.
"It may not have been Reggie but it was his attorneys and Reggie could have stopped it. It involved my family and it was tough to swallow. You are playing with a person's freedom. When that came down, it blew me away."
Lake has learned to be patient through his ordeal with Bush, who turns 25 in March. Yes, they were friends at one time.
Both are alums of Helix High School. Lake was a standout basketball player, attending camps in Santa Barbara and Atlanta and receiving his share of recruiting letters before graduating in 1992. Lake first met Bush during Bush's sophomore season at Helix in 2000.
Since his falling out with Bush, Lake has moved forward with his life, one he intends to keep on the right side of the law.
Lake doesn't make excuses for his troubled past.
He has been arrested seven times, has spent several years of his life behind bars primarily for dealing drugs, and is categorized as a career offender in a United States District Court Southern District of California Presentence Report.
"I am not perfect and I don't know what the future holds, but I am trying to make the right decisions in my life, take care of my family," said Lake, who has a 16-year-old son.
Lake's project with Love, who was born Langston Faizon Santisima, is called Angry People.
The show's trailer explains how it explores the consequences of violent rage through group therapy, led by Dr. Mike Martella of the Trauma and Abuse Recovery Institute in La Mesa, Calif.
Lake completed Martella's state-authorized 52-week program in 2008 after spending a year in prison for violating probation in an incident of domestic violence with his live-in girlfriend in November 2005. Martella told FanHouse that he initially had no idea who Lake was but later saw glimpses of Lake's life and dealings with Bush through the group therapy sessions.
"I saw how it affected his stress levels," Martella told FanHouse. "With Lloyd and all my clients, it's about working off of their reactions, accepting responsibility and thinking, planning and taking the appropriate course of action."
On July 27, 2009, as a result of an assault and battery charge stemming from a late-night bar fight, Love was sentenced to enroll in Martella's program. Initially reluctant to attend, Love has completed half of his sessions and says he now better understands his anger impulses.
It was Lake who suggested to Love that they film the sessions for a reality show, taping nearly 90 hours. Lake and Love say they are working with former NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman's new company that produces and distributes programs across media platforms for television, the Web or mobile devices.
Nothing is scripted in Angry People. It's real people with real issues. Martella says clients don't have an alternative. They must either change their lives or end up in prison. That also goes for Love, a veteran actor/comedian who also has made appearances in the movies Blue Crus