Eric Ebron makes a catch during Lions rookie minicamp in May. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Rookie tight end Eric Ebron is a confident 21-year-old who expects to be a key contributor for the Lions in 2014, but he's looking for motivation in a surprising place.
A couple weeks ago, the 10th overall pick in the draft connected with Miami-based rapper and producer DJ Khaled, and Ebron plans to talk to him about adjusting to the real world after going to college at North Carolina.
The initial advice Khaled passed along, Ebron said, was "to just stay hungry, just stay humble, to believe in myself."
"Obviously, he knows that being one of the top anything takes a lot of work, so he just told me to keep grinding, keep working hard and just keeping doing what I do that got me here," Ebron said.
While not having a public history of working with athletes, many of Khaled's top singles — "Out Here Grindin,'" "We the Best" and "All I Do is Win" — are effectively motivational mantras and popular stadium anthems.
Ebron wouldn't say how his relationship with Khaled began other than "sources," but he did walk out to the rapper's most recent single, "They Don't Love You No More," at the NFL draft last month.
"That's one of the other reasons we ended up hooking up," Ebron said.
In addition to being a popular recording artist, Khaled's production company — We the Best — signed in 2012 with Birdman's Cash Money Records label, which produces the work of Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and others.
Ebron is hardly the first athlete to seek advice from successful rappers. NBA MVP Kevin Durant, Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano and NFL wide receivers Victor Cruz, Antonio Brown and Hakeem Nicks all have their marketing handled by Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh reportedly planned to join Roc Nation, but he's not yet listed on the company's roster.
Ebron said he doesn't know exactly what his relationship with Khaled will be moving forward, but he's open to the idea of a partnership or making appearances in his music videos.
"Maybe. Who knows?" Ebron said. "We're starting to become more and more like family, so hopefully."