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How former NFL Player Hank Baskett withdrew from the spotlight to make custom gaming rigs for pro-ballers

Image Description

Before asking a single interview question, Hank Baskett moves his web-cam to the right as a way to show off a new gaming rig he just built for himself. The wall mounted case is inspired by The Transformers franchise with RGB lighting matching the contrasting red/blue aesthetic between the Autobots and Decepticons. 

At first glance, the build looks absolutely gorgeous. Spec-wise, it also has all the latest must-have components including an 11th-gen Intel Core i9 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and liquid coolant in line with the design theme. The build is one of several dozen rigs Baskett has created for various pro-ballers, celebrities and influencers under HB Customs. 

HB Customs could be considered a second act for the former NFL wide-receiver who entered the Hollywood spotlight after marrying Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson. Following years of reality television, Baskett eventually took time to focus on his first true passion in gaming.    

“I've just always been a gamer,” explained Baskett, who played for the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts. “I was a gamer, then a professional athlete, then a gamer, then a gamer in the entertainment industry. Now that I'm done with all those, I'm a gamer in the gaming industry. The passion I have for PC gaming just comes from my passion for gaming.”

The inside of a PC with CPU cooler and memory

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Looking to the past

When Baskett wasn’t a kid blowing cartridges and praying for luck, his older brother had him playing Wolfenstein 3D, Warcraft, Wing Commander, Dune and Duke Nukem. Growing into a college football player for the University of New Mexico, he leaned more toward consoles due to convenience. 

“I strictly went to consoles because they were easier to move around at that time,” Baskett said. “In college, I didn't have space for a big PC and such.”

Fast forward near the end of his NFL career, he found himself addicted to World of Warships after visiting Wargaming’s booth at PAX West. Calling his contact at Microsoft to ask which Surface tablet could run the popular naval warship game, he bought one from a nearby store and downloaded the game right away. 

“Then I did a few events with Wargaming and they built me my first PC,” Baskett said. I was so happy that I started doing streams with them and it just progressed from there.” 

Alongside his then-new appreciation for keyboard and mouse controls, he saw Steam as a “candy store for gamers.” 

“You'll see a game one week that's $80 and then they'll have a Steam sale for five bucks,” joked Baskett. “You're just like I don't need it, but I'm going to get it. I'm going to put that in the queue. I might play that five years from now, but I'm going to play that game."

Baskett went further down the gaming hole, linking up with various esports organizations like Major League Gaming and becoming part owner of portable monitor company GAEMS. As a professional athlete, he also began to have huge respect for esports gamers.

“I know a lot of these guys that workout harder than some of the guys that I played with in the NFL and it is a craft,” Baskett explained. “They're competing in something, that's what athletes do. They're making money by doing it. That's what athletes do. They're making money off their name, image and likeness. That's what athletes do. I'm just saying, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. It's a duck and I give them props.”

Around that time, he also started creating custom builds for himself. That led to building rigs for various athletes and celebrities. 

“My dad taught me that you stop learning the day you die,” said Baskett. “I've tried to find new things. Just the evolution from my first builds a couple of years ago until now and it's just crazy what you learn.

A PC gaming service for the stars

Notable clients include Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, influencer Jonna Mae and Cleveland Browns player Jarvis Landry. HB Customs has also secured partnerships with PowerA, LucidSound, Newegg, EVG and Optimus PC as well. 

Baskett runs the one man shop like a boutique where everything is made to order. This includes custom cases built in partnership with 3M certified wrappers along with getting specific components for clients. Though extreme builds may take three to four days, one cooler systems can take him a couple of hours. Not only does he pre-install games for clients but provides various RGB lighting profiles and utilizes TeamViewer once they receive their rig to walk them through the set-up process if they are new to PC gaming.  

“I want it to be that white glove service that when you get it, it's an experience,” explained Baskett of his builds that have reached the $20,000 range. “I don't want it to be, ‘I got a computer, I got to go in, I got to download this. I got to wait for this.’ Because when you get something, it's like even with the consoles now, ‘Dang, I just got it. Now I have to wait a whole other day just to download everything that I want.’ So I truly try to offer a service.”

All of the builds are done from Baskett’s Southern California home. He went from his kitchen table to the living room and eventually converted his garage into a shop. “You look at Google and Amazon, they all started in the garage,” he said. 

Like many custom build businesses, the global chip shortage has been a challenge for HB Customs. 

“If I showed you my screen right now, I have sites up that are refreshing nonstop,” Baskett explained. “Do they have any in stock, as soon as it's in stock I'm trying to buy just like everyone else. It really sucks for the gamers that the scalping prices and this and that. I just hate it because there's people that truly are gamers and just want to upgrade their performance and their systems, but yet they can't get a hold of it because someone is charging more than triple the price for a EVGA [RTX] 3080 ULTRA.” 

Thankfully, partnerships with companies makes acquiring components a bit easier. Baskett has become so busy meeting customer demand that he hasn’t time to enjoy his own favorite games including Call of Duty: Warzone, Outriders and Grounded. However, he views HB Customs as an extension of his creativity despite the time away from gaming. 

“I stand by my work,” said Baskett. “There's some nights I'll be thinking about something and I'll go down at one o'clock in the morning and come back in at 6:00 AM and lay down for a couple hours and then start the day, take the kids to school or whatever. Because I like that ability to be able to when I want to be creative, I can be creative.” 

Image 1 of 4

HB Customs build for Von Miller

(Image credit: HB Customs)
Image 2 of 4

HB customs build for Ja'wuan James

(Image credit: HB Customs)
Image 3 of 4

HB Customs build for mark ingram

(Image credit: HB Customs)
Image 4 of 4

HB Customs gaming pc for Keenan Allen

(Image credit: HB Customs)

Custom Builds

1. Von Miller

  • CPU: Intel - I9-10850k
  • Motherboard: EVGA - Z490 FTW
  • Memory: Corsair - Vengeance RGB 64GB
  • Storage: x2 - Samsung - 970 EVO Plus SSD 2TB - M.2 NVMe Internal SSD
  • Graphics Card: EVGA - 3090 FTW Ultra GPU
  • Case: Corsair - 1000D Obsidian Case
  • Power Supply: EVGA - 1600W Supernova Titanium PSU
  • Cooling: Corsair - Hydro X Series XH305HI Hardline Water Cooling Kit, Corsair - Hydro X Series XL5 Performance Cooler, Barrow - PETG Tubing 14mm Hard Tubing, Corsair - Hydro X Series XF Hardline Fittings, Corsair - Hydro X Series 90 degree Rotary adapters, Corsair - Hyrdro X Series XD3 RGB Pump, Corsair - Hydro X Series XR5 360mm Water Cooling Radiator, Corsair - Hydro X Series XR7 480mm Water Cooling Radiator, Bitspower - G1/4" Flow Indicator, Bitspower - G1/4" 90 Degree Female to Female 14mm Fitting
  • Extra: Corsair - RGB LED Lighting Pro Expansion, upHere - Graphics Card GPU Brace, Thermaltake - Commander FP 10 Port 4-pin PWM Fan Hub, Corsair - iCUE Commander PRO Smart RGB Lighting & Fan Controller, Corsair - QL Series 120mm RGB LED, Jbtek - Sleeved PWM Fan Splitter Cable

2. Jonna Mae

  • CPU: Intel - I9-10900K
  • Motherboard: EVGA - Z490 DARK
  • Memory: Corsair - Vengeance RGB Pro 32GB
  • Storage: Corsair - 970 Evo Plus 500GB
  • Graphics Card: EVGA - GeForce RTX 3080 XC3 Ultra
  • Case: Lian Li - 011 Dynamic XL ROG - White
  • Power Supply: EVGA - SuperNOVA 850w T2 80+ Titanium
  • Cooling: BITSPOWER – Touchaqua Sedna Pump/Reservoir, 12mm fittings – white, CORSAIR - Hydro X Series XC7 CPU Water Block - White, Hydro X Series 12mm Hardline Tubing, EKWB – EK-Quantum Vector XC3 RTX 3080 GPU Water Block, PRIMOCHILL - 2 - 360mm Eximo SLim Radiator - White
  • Extra: Corsair - 10 – QL 120mm RGB Fans, CORSAIR – 2 iCUE Commander Pro Smart Hub, 2 – iCUE Lighting Node CORE fan controllers, RGB LED Lighting PRO Expansion KIT, EKWB – EK-CryoFuel 1000mL Electric Purple PC Coolant, LIAN LI - Custom Strimmer Cables

3. Jarvis Landry

  • CPU: Intel - 10900k
  • Motherboard: EVGA - Z490 FTW Motherboard
  • Memory: Corsair - Vengeance 32GB
  • Storage: Samsung - 970 EVO Plus 2TB M.2
  • Graphics Card: EVGA - 3080 FTW3 Ultra GPU
  • Case: Corsair - 570X RGB Mid-Tower, Tempered Glass Case
  • Power Supply: EVGA - 850w PSU
  • Cooling: NZXT - Kraken Z73
  • Extra: Corsair - iCUE Commander Pro, LINKUP - Custom Cables - Gold and Purple


31 Aug 2021



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