Chris Bryant has always been on the move. It was a long drive from Southcentral Los Angeles to Bellingham, Washington. And the adventure was just starting. After the drive, Chris, his two younger siblings, and his mom, rode the ferry through the Inside Passage to Ketchikan. They kept going, resting at his grandparents’ house where 6-year-old Chris saw snow for the first time. That began his Alaska journey, growing up a Tsimshian and Black child, raised in Metlakatla.
In a new place, Chris realized he was different from the other kids.
“That was the first time I learned that I was that I was Black,” Chris said. “I did look different from an Indigenous people’s perspective.”
Whether it was the way he talked or the way he looked, Chris often found himself on the outside looking in. Then, a different kind of movement helped him along his path. His undeniable talent in basketball seemed to bring people together and gave him a shot at acceptance.
“There’s kind of like a common denominator where it seems like both Black and Indigenous people value and love the game, and I just so happen to be good at it,” Chris said. “Once I got to college, there was all types of different people that were on my team. We had Black, white and Asian and Indigenous people.”
Like many kids with dreams of playing in the NBA, Chris’s first role models were professional players. In college he gravitated toward a strength and conditioning coach who introduced him to another career path and showed him how his passion could be used in service to others.
“He did actually look like me and I was able to see a future me in him,” Chris said. “I totally just made him my mentor.”
Today, Chris is a health and wellness coach who runs a fitness studio in Anchorage focusing on strength and mobility. He combines his passion for athletics and his emotional connection to movement to encourage people to move better.
“I think movement is a great medicine for any type of challenge that people face,” Chris said. “Whether it’s mental, whether it’s physical inability, I love to start in that space and then dive deeper into the emotional part and help them on a healing journey.”
Being someone who holds multiple cultural identities, connecting Black and Indigenous perspectives, Chris has been able to build and support a community of people from all backgrounds through sport and physical movement.