Sonny Vaccaro

Vaccaro Sports Partnerships and Founding Chairman, The Roundball Classic and ABCD Camp

Considered one of basketball’s most well-connected insiders, Sonny Vaccaro remains a formidable force in contemporary sports marketing and grassroots basketball. His visionary promotional innovations (beginning with the signing of Michael Jordan to his first major endorsement package) revolutionized the sports marketing genre with shoe endorsements, team affiliations and other ground-breaking promotional partnerships which have helped propel the fortunes of countless athletes, collegiate programs and professional teams. In a career spanning 30-plus years in the shoe industry, he brought his marketing and player development alchemy to Basketball programs at the world’s three largest companies in athletic shoes and apparel.

A keen observer of both up-and-coming talent and promising marketing opportunities, the hyper-kinetic Vaccaro
continues a challenging travel schedule, criss-crossing the country to bring talent, events, coaches, scouts, media
and marketers together working on initiatives focussed primarily on the future of American basketball and its place in an increasingly international arena.

Vaccaro has created several of the leading events in grassroots basketball. The Roundball Classic, America’s original high school All- Star Classic, which began as the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic in Pittsburgh 43 years ago. The most widely imitated event in prep basketball, this charitable Classic annually brought together the 22 most-gifted high school all-stars in the country, and holds the all-time attendance record for a high school all-star event. The annual ABCD Camp was a “must-be-there” event for college coaches from leading programs across America. For more than 23 years, the ABCD Camp showcased the next wave of outstanding roundballers for scouts and coaches. And Sonny’s Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas became the largest Summer basketball tournament in the world, featuring 400 teams and 5,000 players from America and internationally.
Continuing a charitable tradition begun when Vaccaro co-founded the Dapper Dan Classic in 1965, Vaccaro established the non-profit organization Hoops That Help in 1990. Contributions have surpassed $4 million over the years for programs benefitting the homeless, AIDS education, The Boys and Girls Clubs and Chicago Sun-Times Charities.

In addition to such diverse projects as helping produce the highly-rated TV special A Comedy Salute to Michael Jordan, Sonny continues to make regular appearances on television and radio sportstalk programs locally and nationally. His frank and often controversial perspectives have made him a widely sought after guest on such programs as 60 Minutes, HBO’s Real Sports, CBS Evening News, On the Record with Bob Costas, ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, ESPN Between the Lines and Rome is Burning, where he has never minced words on a wide range of issues, including student-athlete rights, regulatory hypocrisy, limitations on young athletes crossing over to professional status and other hot-button issues in contemporary sports.

Widely written about over the years in books and newspaper articles, Vaccaro will be portrayed by Emmy-winner James Gandolfini in the HBO original movie, ABCD Camp, which is currently in development. Sonny also continues to write, keeping an ongoing diary. His recent speaking tour has included appearances at the Wharton School of Business, Duke University, Harvard, Yale and the University of Maryland, among others.
One of basketball’s most influential and quotable figures, Sonny, has been listed five times in Sporting News’ top 100 most powerful people in sports.

Vaccaro continues to reside on the West Coast where he spends his day keeping his finger on the pulse of Roundball, promising prospects and the crosscurrents of basketball around the world.