Ed O’Bannon: hero, flameout … Face of a Movement

Ed O’Bannon entered the public eye as a basketball player, but his foremost legacy might be as a plaintiff.

Years after his playing career, O’Bannon saw his own collegiate likeness in a branded video game. Having received zero compensation for the game, or the college basketball career depicted therein, O’Bannon took a historic stand, becoming the face of a class action lawsuit against the NCAA. This was a pioneering challenge of the league’s ability to profit off the images of unpaid athletes.

Before it was popular to do so, O’Bannon rallied important people and platforms to battle a monolith. He helped stir open discussion of predatory practices, and a cultural reconsideration of so-called “amateurism”. O’Bannon’s lawsuit was a success in its own right, and it informed further opposition to the NCAA’s power. He will forever be a key figure in college athletes’ struggle for fairness.

But why him? Out of countless college athletes, what made Ed O’Bannon the right face for this cause? If you understand Ed’s other, preexisting legacies, you’ll see why.

Let’s meet these versions of Ed O’Bannon in the Prism.