It is always refreshing to see people use their status and resources to uplift others. As the son of a New Orleans Saint, the expectation for greatness has been there since day one for Bivian “Sonny” Lee III. As the Founder/ CEO of Son Of A Saint, he is giving children opportunities to expand their horizons. The presence of this amazing organization also serves as a safe space for kids and gives Sonny a platform to do transformative work in a city that needs it. New Orleans may be a tourist delight, but it has an underbelly that’s plagued with crime, homelessness, and a sense of lost hope amongst those who have been cast away by society. Nonetheless, the Crescent City native has given hope to those in need while learning what it takes to be the type of father his own would be proud of.
As we spoke about his early upbringing Sonny proudly attributes a lot of his maturation as a young man to his time spent at St. Augustine High School. A school known for it’s academic and behavioral rigor, he fondly recalls his time at the all boys school nestled in New Orleans’ Seventh ward. Being able to communicate with and learn from black educators who strived for academic greatness was pivotal. When asked about his time spent at Saint Augustine he replied, “I really enjoyed the process, having high expectations made me realize that hard work is the benchmark that my legacy will stands upon”. He also had very high praise for the emphasis place on exemplary organizational skills. These skills would continue to be refined throughout his matriculation at St. Augustine, little did Sonny know these skills would be crucial to the success that he has experienced as a father and as a businessman.
Unfortunately, Sonny’s father passed away while he was young, therefore making his memories of him distant and clouded. Although these memories may be distant, Bivian Lee Jr. is always present in the mind, heart, and spirit of his son. The adoration and respect Sonny holds in his heart for his late father is a reflection of how he feels about his own son. As our conversation transitioned from his upbringing and professional involvement to his views and practices as father you could see a prominent glow of happiness and achievement upon his face. Making sure his son Tenzin, who is 7 years old needs and wants are met takes center stage in his life. Along with being equipped to meet those needs, there is a very deep understanding of the importance of having a very healthy line of communication with his son at an early age.
When asked what makes him a great father, Sonny answered affirmatively
“allowing him to be himself allows us both to learn and grow”.
The allowance of a two way street of communication is very important, creating a safe space for children to express themselves is paramount in order for this relationship to thrive.
A large component of Son Of A Saint’s presence lies within their exceptional work within the mental health space.
“To be present for your child you have to handle your baggage”.
Simple words that carry a lot of weight. Although it may not be easy, it’s absolutely essential. Whether you are carrying on a family tradition of great and involved fathers or dispelling a generational curse of fractious and toxic masculinity having the mental capacity to do so will be of extreme importance.
As our conversation continued I felt the emotion attached to his words. Son Of A Saint is experiencing tremendous success in the Crescent City as a result of the hard work Sonny and his hard working staff are contributing. Which has led to an extremely important milestone for the organization. On June 11, 2021 Son Of A Saint had its groundbreaking ceremony celebrating the start of a world class renovation of their home office. After receiving a virtual tour of this state of the art office the unwavering commitment to excellence is apparent.
Sonny admitted to being slightly anxious before the event. The Son Of A Saint founder always wears a very noticeable diamond ring everywhere he goes. This ring was passed down to him from his father and carries very deep intrinsic value. His mother personally cleans her beloved husbands’ ring as an ode to his life and their love and returns it to her son proudly every time. As the time grew closer for him to speak there was a bit of nervous energy surrounding him. As Sonny’s mother arrived to the ceremony the frantic energy that surrounded him was quickly turned into assurance and calm. He immediately spotted her approaching and made his way through the small crowd to greet his mother proudly. Upon their embrace his mother returned Bivian Sr’s ring to her beloved son and he admittedly felt himself settle into a tranquility that could only be provided by the spirit of someone held so closely to the heart.
As Sonny expounded upon based on the nature of this interview Sonny was able to accurately predict the final question I would use as a crescendo to such an amazing and fulfilling conversation. As I asked him what he would say to his father in a letter you could feel the emotion exuding from his entire being. Simply put, Bivian “Sonny” Lee III would say: