Last September, when Greenville developers Leighton Cubbage and Stephen Mudge of Serrus Capital Partners began contemplating who would lead the sales team for Lakeside Lodge, a resort condo complex on Lake Hartwell just minutes from the Clemson University campus, they had the same person in mind: former Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd.
Unbeknownst to them, Boyd was preparing for a career change and looking for a new opportunity. After spending a year working as a business development manager for a regional distributor of packaging material and solutions, Boyd was ready to find something more aligned with his long-term professional goals.
“I’ve always had this affection for people,” he says. “I like spending time with people, striking up conversations and really getting a feel for who they are as a person and how I may be able to help them, just in the course of the interaction. One of the things I thought I could do outside of being in the sports realm was getting into real estate, so I was taking my classes and getting everything squared away for that.”
One day, Boyd says, he was sitting outside of Nose Dive in downtown Greenville with one of his mentors, former Clemson University linebacker Patrick Sapp, discussing his next move. That’s when Mudge and Cubbage happened to leave the restaurant and notice the pair. Boyd told them about getting his real estate license, and the conversation quickly turned to Lakeside Lodge.
For Boyd, his involvement was an easy decision. “I was like, ‘Sign me up. We’ll make it happen,’” he says.
Lakeside Lodge includes 116 units — a mix of studio, two-, and three-bedroom condos — and incorporates the amenities of an upscale hotel: concierge service, housekeeping and maintenance, a lobby, restaurant/bar, pool, fire pit, fitness center, and conference space. Owners will have the opportunity to rent out their units when they’re not in use.
Construction is set to begin this spring and projected to be completed in time for the 2019 college football season. The project is still in the reservation phase, and potential buyers now have the opportunity to put down a refundable deposit to reserve a spot to ultimately purchase a condo.
That’s where Boyd comes in.
“I don’t have to sell this. It kind of sells itself, because it’s such a unique project on its own,” he says. “But to be that buffer, that middleman between point A and point B, that’s kind of what I am — more of a facilitator than anything. … At the end of the day, I’m dealing with people, and that’s all I really wanted to do.”
Boyd’s involvement and the property’s proximity to Clemson Memorial Stadium aren’t the only connections Lakeside Lodge has to Clemson athletics. Cubbage and Mudge both played football for the Tigers in the 1970s. Among the 30 investors are former offensive lineman Jeff Bostic; former tight end Jim Riggs and his wife, Liz; and Julie Ibrahim, president and CEO of the Tiger Sports Shop and wife of the late Dr. I. M. Ibrahim, former Clemson men’s soccer coach.
“You look at the initial investors and the people involved at the start of this project … they just want their own little piece of Clemson,” Boyd says.
Home Sweet Home
Although Boyd is not originally from South Carolina, he’s made Greenville his home following his days at Clemson and time playing professional football.
“I always wanted to find somewhere where I can leave my imprint, where I can call home, where I can potentially raise my family. I haven’t found a better place than this,” he says. “When I was up in New York or up in Pittsburgh, when I was out in LA [Los Angeles] for a few weeks … I’m going to all these places, and I’m like, ‘It’s cool, but it isn’t Greenville.’ And that’s a true statement; that’s not just propaganda right there. That’s just how I feel about the situation. And I think it’s because the people are so genuine and because they have such huge hearts.”
“When I was up in New York or up in Pittsburgh, when I was out in LA [Los Angeles] for a few weeks … I’m going to all these places, and I’m like, ‘It’s cool, but it isn’t Greenville.’”
For Boyd, claiming Greenville as home also means investing in the community and giving back. The Tajh Boyd Foundation, which benefits underprivileged and at-risk youth through education, mentoring, and character development, is ultimately about “leaving this place better than we found it,” Boyd says.
“Everything that happened up until this point helped me become Tajh, you know, and I think that’s just the case for everybody, that if they looked back at the history of their life and the course of it from elementary school up, you get to a point where you realize that everything that happened to you happened because of, you know,” he adds. “In that situation, I’m a product of my environment. I was fortunate to have both of my parents. I was fortunate for them to take time and cater to what I wanted to do and aspire to be, and they took all the effort to try to make that happen for me. So, it’s not necessarily the norm for a lot of the kids in … underprivileged areas, really and truly. I just want them to know that I believe in them, that we as a community believe in them.”
Currently, Boyd’s philanthropic efforts are concentrated in the Nicholtown area of Greenville, about 1.5 miles from downtown’s central business district, south of Laurens Road. At the beginning of the school year, the Tajh Boyd Foundation distributed hundreds of book bags to children at the Phillis Wheatley Center. The foundation also recently partnered with Academy Sports to distribute 75 bicycles and held a Christmas toy drive.
On March 23, the Tajh Boyd Foundation will hold its annual gala at The Loom in Simpsonville. “It just kind of gives a breakdown to all the people of what we are, what we try to do, and how we’re going to accomplish it,” Boyd says. “It’s a nice event. Last year, we had about 200 people, so we’re growing steadily.”
Boyd also plans on holding a career-day program this summer in the Nicholtown area, where once a week children ages 7 to 15 will have the opportunity to hear about various occupations and professions.
“It’s going to be like a show-and-tell type deal,” Boyd says. “Whether these kids want to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a plumber, or an artist or architect, I want them to be able to see it. Because then it comes attainable. Seeing it on TV doesn’t make it real, but you see the person, and it makes it real. So I’m excited to get the community involved in that way, as well.”
Game of Life
Although Boyd’s days of playing football are behind him, he remains connected to the sport that he says helped shape who he is today. Back in December, he and former University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore ran a youth fundamentals football camp at the Kroc Center in Greenville. In addition to spending time with current Clemson football players, Boyd also helps mentor a handful of college quarterbacks across the country at programs including Louisiana State University, Arizona State University, University of Utah, and Boston College.
“[They’re] just guys that either reached out to me or I reached out to them … and we just developed that relationship there. And I find nothing more joyful than that right there,” he says.
For Boyd, football and life will always be intertwined.
“For me, it directly correlates to life — the integrity you have to have, the camaraderie with your teammates, the grind, the work ethic. You don’t necessarily miss playing; you miss everything else that was involved. And I think that’s what a lot of us former players feel. It’s not the touchdowns; it’s the locker room. … It’s that accountability, whether it’s Marcus [Lattimore] or Connor [Shaw, former USC quarterback and current Furman University tight ends coach] or some of my guys that live here.
“What you see is accountability partners.”
And that also includes his new business partners in Mudge and Cubbage as Boyd navigates the ins and outs of real estate. Says Boyd: “They’re helping push me to that next level that I couldn’t do without them in that realm.”
Tickets for the Tajh Boyd Foundation annual gala will be available at teamtajh.com.