KNOXVILLE (WATE) – “It was a spur of the moment idea, and I went with it… and here I am today.”
Just like that, a social media superstar was born. Brandon Armstrong, a former Lincoln Memorial University basketball player, has taken a path far less traveled to reach his success. Armstrong, known as the social media star BdotAdot5, has gained massive popularity through his video impressions of famous NBA players.
“I was always trying to put smiles on other people’s faces,” Armstrong says. “When we played pick up we’d impersonate Kobe or JR Smith or different players.”
After graduating from LMU in 2012, Armstrong spent time with the NBA D-League’s Reno Bighorns before playing professionally in Spain and Australia. But it was on a whim that he filmed an impression of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook– and the video blew up.
“When I did the Russell and I saw the feedback it was getting… I was like okay, lemme try other players, and my supporters were like do more do more.”
The impressions, most shot in his cousin’s driveway in Atlanta, helped his popularity explode – taking him from Division II college athlete to a social media mogul with hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Vine and his YouTube channel.
“It’s funny, I wanted to be on ESPN for playing basketball,” Armstrong says with an infectious grin. “And then I made it onto ESPN for you know… playing basketball. It’s crazy how it all worked out.”
And his videos have helped him connect with some of the athletes he’s impersonated.
“I was in Westwood [Los Angeles] walking to my Uber, and I hear some guy say ‘man you’re a funny dude,'” He recalled. “And I’m thinking it’s like some random person… and I look and it’s Russell Westbrook?” So I chopped it up with him.”
Armstrong recently signed with Untied Talent Agency and lives in Los Angeles. He says his plan is to expand his portfolio into the entertainment industry. He’s used his new-found celebrity to inspire his followers to social causes, like Steph Curry’s Call Your Shot Campaign– which, in conjunction with the United Nation Foundation– was created to raise money to help end malaria.
He even has some advice for young aspiring athletes.
“Make your plan A, your plan B. Because if you give your all in what you really want to do, something else will pan out. And this is coming from someone whose plan B is what I’m doing now,” he laughs.
Not a bad plan, nor pathway—less traveled or not.