Sitting in a high-rise office in Houston, Larry Brooks ’01 is surrounded by snapshots of his success. Banners showcasing his books on entrepreneurship serve as a backdrop to the unfolding discussion.

On the table, clippings from The Pine Log, SFA’s student newspaper, are preserved in sheet protectors and take him back to his days on campus as a member of the Lumberjack football team.

“The era I attended SFA was amazing. We were successful on many levels,” Brooks said. “Participating in various organizations and a winning system was a blessing.”

The first in his family to graduate from college, Brooks said SFA served as the catalyst to his career as a real estate agent, business owner, author, philanthropist, motivational speaker, social media influencer and entrepreneur.

Humble beginnings

Raised by his grandmother in Southeast Houston, Brooks lived with his brother and cousins in a two-bedroom house. He remembers his grandmother struggling to raise them.

“My granny used to say, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,’ so she always encouraged us to stay active and involved in sports,” Brooks said. Throughout his childhood, he rarely had idle hands. In fact, Brooks developed an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age.

“My grandmother was one of the first entrepreneurs I remember. She was the cool cups lady,” Brooks said. “There weren’t many convenience stores, so my granny sold cool cups for 25 cents — Kool-Aid mixed with sugar and then frozen — and she sold candy, pickles and things like that around the neighborhood.”

Watching her sparked Brooks’ work ethic. At 7 years old, he began a lawn service business. During middle and high school, he sold candy. At SFA he was known as the candy man for selling Airheads and Charms Blow Pops — a gig earning him about $80 a day.

A football visit brought Brooks to SFA, and with a full-ride scholarship, he donned a jersey as No. 13. A student-athlete in both football and track, Brooks played cornerback and was on the 1999 Southland Conference Championship football team. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and a marketing major.

Originally, Brooks pursued a professional football career, but touched down in real estate.

A king is crowned

Known as the “Texas real estate king,” Brooks has built a successful career as the co-founder of Brooks and Davis Real Estate, the largest African-American-owned real estate brokerage firm in Houston.

“When I came into this industry, I was out working seven days a week. Literally, I would go, go, go,” he said. “One day, a group of guys called me the Texas real estate king saying, ‘You’re all over the place; you’re a king.’ Because of that comment, I started using the tag line.”

Brooks’ success didn’t happen overnight. While at SFA, he was employed at a mortgage company. On weekends, he attended real estate school, earning his license in June 2001. His solo real estate agent career began at Legé Properties in Houston. In 2007, he opened Brooks Star Properties, but then the stock market crashed.

“I remember one day 85 mortgage companies went out of business. No one was buying or able to get financing,” Brooks said. “I had this office space leased for a year and didn’t know how I was going to make ends meet.”

Not giving up, Brooks met with Michael Davis, now his business partner, and the pair decided to share the office and split the bills. This arrangement blossomed into a partnership, and Brooks and Davis Real Estate was born.

In his 18-year career as an agent and team leader, Brooks has been a part of 1,500 transactions. “I love helping people. I sell a product that will most likely be the largest purchase in people’s lives,” Brooks said. “Having an opportunity to be involved in something like that is life-changing.”

Two years ago, Brooks and Davis began expanding. So far, they have recruited 50 agents and hope to have 250 total agents within the next year. Brooks rarely takes listings now; instead, he teaches and conducts in-office training.

“Real estate is my first baby and has opened doors for me,” Brooks said. “I host workshops showing people how to create multiple streams of income, and I have moved into public speaking and consulting.”

Entrepreneur and philanthropist

A jack of all trades, Brooks’ abilities as an entrepreneur have kept him busy. In 2014, he was named the NextGen Realtor Group 20 under 40 Rising Star by the Houston Association of Realtors and the recipient of the Trail Blazer Award, which recognizes the next generation of leaders. Two years later, he was the recipient of the Entrepreneurship Leadership Award from the Houston Power Professionals for his ability to empower fellow entrepreneurs. He’s also a member of the 100 Most Influential Real Estate Agents in Texas.

A two-time author, Brooks has written “The Entrepreneur Code: 6 Keys to Unlock Your Success” and “Empowering Quotes for the Entrepreneur in You.” He often uses books as tools when speaking to up-and-coming business owners, real estate agents and entrepreneurs.

“I’m teaching and training others how to gain financial freedom,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to give parts of yourself to others so they can work independently.”

Recently, Brooks became a host for the Prime Real Estate Network podcast that discusses real estate, investments and home ownership. He also opened a trendy clothing store at But his most challenging endeavor is perhaps the nonprofit organization A Grandparent’s Love, which he started in honor of his grandmother who passed away two years ago.

“My granny instilled great values in us, but I watched her struggle to care for us, too. Knowing this is a growing epidemic, I wanted to provide for others what no one gave my grandmother,” Brooks said.

A Grandparent’s Love provides support, financially and physically, to grandparents raising their grandchildren.

“Most grandparents are on a fixed income. For example, in the summer when the electricity bill might be $400, grandparents may have to take money from the grocery budget,” Brooks explained. “We want to help with that. My goal is to ensure many children will have the same opportunity for success I did.”

Purple Pride

Always up for the next challenge, Brooks is active in his community representing SFA as a member of the SFA Alumni Association Board, where he promotes the university brand and networks with alumni in Houston.

“I love SFA, and connecting with other alumni is so important,” Brooks said. “If you believe in your brand and have more people participate, the more valuable your brand becomes.”

While he may have traded his football jersey for a suit and tie, the SFA pin on his lapel and his spirited socks are evidence Brooks keeps the university and the lessons he learned on campus central to his life.

“I loved SFA; it was a game changer for me,” Brooks said. “Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without SFA.”