Leonard Armato, chief executive and commissioner of AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, has been a sports attorney, agent, manager and entrepreneur for almost three decades. He's represented some of the world's most famous athletes, including basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal. Armato started as an agent with one client National Football League Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. Other more experienced agents tried to lure Lott away during contract negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers, but Lott wouldn't defect. He went on to play in all four of the team's Super Bowl wins. Armato founded AVP in 1983; volleyball and the tour were popular through the late 1990s. The organization then struggled. In 2001, Armato combined men's and women's league play, gaining national network coverage and building sponsorships with high-profile companies such as Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's and Cuervo, among others. With its new success, the tour has expanded throughout the nation and has gone international as well.

Question: Why do you love volleyball?

Answer: I grew up playing volleyball on the beach. When I was in college I used the sport as a good cross-training platform for basketball. I know and love the sport and the beach.

Q: What was your childhood like?

A: My childhood was great. I had two loving parents. My mom was in real estate and my dad was a comparative literature professor at USC; they are still together today after more than 55 years of marriage. They were very supportive of me in everything I did.

Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

A: I have a younger brother, John Armato, in the South Bay who's a doctor. I have a younger sister who is a very successful songwriter, Antonina Armato, who has written songs for Miley Cyrus and other Disney performers.

Q: What is your average workday like?

A: I wake up at about 5:30 and come
downstairs to my gym and work out for about an hour. Take a shower. Then grab a quick bite to eat and get to the office around 7:15. I try to get in as much reading as I can; usually business periodicals. Then I focus on our business goals and objectives, expanding our partnership arrangements and our reach. So, I might get on the phone and talk to John Miller at NBC, Bob Thompson at Fox Sports Net or Steve Simpson at Fox Sports West to see how we can expand our platform. Or I may call our sponsors at Crocs, Bud Lite, Jose Cuervo or McDonald's and work out how we can brand their products better.

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