Demario Solomon Simmons star has risen, Simmons is the 2017 Tulsan of The Year, Damario is a proud member of Oklahoma’s premier full-service law firms, Riggs Abney, Legislative Liaison for Oklahoma’s Premier Think Tank Oklahoma Policy Institute, and adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma African & African-American Studies Program.
First, however, he had to overcome several adversities. He grew up in a low-income single-parent household without his father, and fell into the inner-city’s street culture love of sports and disregard for education. His sole goal in life was to play in the NFL, and thought he was the next “great one”. He wasn’t and that was even before he tore his ACL during his senior year. Worse, he graduated from high school near the bottom of his class with an attitude problem, and was forced to accept a football scholarship from a small school he did not want to attend. Disgruntled, Simmons dropped out of school to “find himself,” and moved to Dallas, TX. While working in a relative’s makeshift “warehouse” and struggling to pay bills, it became clear that rejecting education was the worst decision he made.
Driven by his newfound desire “to inform, inspire, and empower,” Simmons returned to Oklahoma, and over the next seven years, earned Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Law Degrees, all with honors. Including becoming the first University of Oklahoma (OU) African-American law student to be awarded the prestigious Joel Jankowsky “Most Outstanding Graduate” Award. He also walked-on and earned a letter for the University of Oklahoma football team.
He started his law firm right out of law school as a solo practice in which legal services were provided to low-income community members in exchange for office space, and it grew into one of the largest African-American majority-owned full-service law firm in Oklahoma history.
Simmons has successfully represented client in federal, state, tribal, and administrative courts, including litigating for Black Creek “Freedmen” tribal citizenship rights. He also served as an integral member of the legal team — including famed attorneys Johnnie Cochrane and Charles J. Ogletree — who fought to obtain human rights and reparations for the survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. Solomon-Simmons’ work on the 1921 case earned him an invitation to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus.
Simmons has also overseen the negotiation of millions of dollars of player and endorsement contracts, organized and managed athletes’ businesses and business legal structures, and represented players regarding NFLPA, NCAA, and local high school rules and regulations, including five NFL & NBA 1st round draft picks. He also created Bridge Builders: African-American Student-Athlete Network, the first student-centered and student-run program in the Big XII Conference, to address issues unique to African-American student-athletes at Predominately White Universities.
Simmons is most proud of being involved in the creation of innovative charitable and educational initiatives between community organizations, businesses, and athletes. For example, he co-founded with his wife the MVP Foundation and the annual MVP Weekend which creates programming and awareness that benefit inner-city youth, with special emphasis on African-American males regarding issues of Manhood, Fatherhood, and Advocacy.
Solomon Simmons star is shining brightly but there are many other milestones ahead for him. Tulsa North has a son it can be proud, he is Demario Solomon Simmons, he is the 2017 Tulsa of The Year.