After graduating from Troy University, alumni Aaron Allen and Ashley Kelley turned their passion for basketball into a business to help other athletes.
The newlyweds are in the sixth year of their program, Lovhandlez, a basketball training program in the Wiregrass area that focuses on improving the skillsets of athletes ranging from 4 years old to athletes in their 30s.
Aaron didn’t grow up in basketball but was instead a football star at his high school.
“When I played against the basketball players, I realized I was better than them,” Allen said. “When I came to TROY, I had to walk on because there weren’t any more scholarships.”
On the other hand, Kelley has known what she’s wanted to do since she was a kid.
“My family is basically a basketball family,” Kelley said. “Growing up, my uncle coached at UAB and I would go to the games.
“I found it very entertaining and was like ‘I want to play, too.’ TROY was the best Division I school that gave an offer to me, so I chose TROY. Four years later, we won our first championship.”
Now the two have teamed up to offer their skills to train athletes.
“When I had a teammate who was struggling, we’d always work on things without really realizing there was a market for that,” Allen said. “When (Kelley) came, I told her she was pretty good, but she could be better.
“We started working and people would see her play. Someone asked me how much I’d charge to teach them, so I made up a number, and he agreed.”
Allen continued to train his first athlete, who in return began inviting his friends. Before he knew it, Allen had over 20 clients.
As the two continued to build their brand, they realized they needed to put a name to it.
“During all of this time through school and work, I’d go to the rec and dribble,” Allen said. “A kid walked by me one day and said, ‘You love handles, don’t you?’”
Now known as Lovhandlez, Allen and Kelley dedicate their life to their sport.
They train with a few basketball players at TROY and have helped athletes sign with colleges like Tuskegee and Huntington.
“During the summertime, we go to schools,” Kelley said. “Schools will call us because usually in June, you’re able to do teamwork, and in July, kids usually do travel ball.
“Now, while basketball’s getting started and throughout the year, we’ll do individual training and group sessions.”
Kelley signed a professional contract with an Israeli Premier League before signing with the RBF Pink Ladies in France. As Kelley traveled to different countries to play basketball, she continued to train young athletes in countries like Israel, France, Africa and China.
This year, things are changing for Allen and Kelley, who have a baby on the way.
“I’d usually be travelling, but I can’t because I’m pregnant,” Kelley said. “The baby will start travelling with us, too. And so will the dogs.”
Allen and Kelley are looking forward to expanding their business and have future plans to train abroad, but for right now, they want to tell Troy residents to just “Go dribble!”