Basketball player Kayla Padilla is ready for brand ambassadorship

Kayla Padilla is many things: talented basketball player, Southern California native, Wharton junior, 2020 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, writer, die hard Bruce Springsteen fan. These days, you can add another: brand ambassador.

Kayla Padilla smiles while holding a basketball in a t-shirt she designed in front of a sign that reads Kobe Bryant Gym.
Wharton junior Kayla Padilla. (Image: Wharton Stories)

Kayla is one of the first NCAA athletes to take advantage of the association’s updated “name, image, and likeness” (NIL) policy that allows college students to make money through sponsorships, personal appearances, partnerships and endorsements. The NCAA rule change went into effect on July 1, and in response, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a similar act into law, allowing athletes at Pennsylvania colleges to earn money from brand deals.

Many athletic departments across the country were caught off guard by the decision, but Kayla was ready.

“Being able to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities had been on my mind for a while, but once July finally hit, I was looking for a way to make the most of the new law without (the partnership) feeling forced,” she says.

So, the Penn Women’s basketball point guard is going back to her roots, partnering with her longtime trainer, Jared Lloyd, co-founder of Home Court Edge Basketball based in the Los Angeles area, to develop a logo and T-shirt for the training program’s HCExKP merchandise collection.

“I’ve been training with Home Court Edge since the fourth grade, and I have a great relationship with Jared and the whole team there,” Kayla says. “They came to me about the idea of collaborating on a design for a T-shirt, and I thought it was a great opportunity to introduce something of my own.”

Home Court Edge allowed her to lead the design process, which incorporates elements from the flag of the Philippines, a nod to her family and her heritage.

“My Filipino roots are something that’s very important to me, and I wanted to showcase that,” Kayla says. “A lot of my supporters are Filipino and basketball is popular in my culture. For me, being Filipino means valuing hard work and family, and so I thought there was no better way for people to see who I am than by representing my community.”

This story is by Emily O’Donnell. Read more at Wharton Stories.