“2KForbes Filmed It”

Videographer Remi Ali builds brand from sports mixtapes


Photo courtesy Remi Ali.

While filming at sporting events, Ali dons apparel from his website.

By Gabe Schaner

When he first found out in February that Lamelo Ball, the rising basketball star of the Ball Family, was playing in a high school game for Spire Academy at Towson University, Montgomery County, local Remi Ali felt a drive within himself — he had to videotape the game. Ali, with just under a year of videography in his belt, drove himself to Baltimore, parked his car and marched to the main entrance of the stadium to get in the media line, video equipment in hand.

Only one thing was stopping him: he didn’t have a press pass. Ali waited in the media line, trying to sneak his way in. After the security guard denied Ali’s entry, the Spire team’s shiny white coach bus rolled into the back entrance. The first person stepped off the bus, and Ali could tell by his suit and tie, that this guy was important — this guy was his “in.” He casually ran over and enthusiastically asked if he could get into the game, because of course, he was filming for Spire, and the next thing he knew, he was courtside with his video camera.

Ali ended up making a mixtape, a compilation of video-taped highlights for Lamelo Ball. Ball himself said that he liked the mixtape and would’ve posted it on Instagram, but he had already posted a highlight tape from SLAM Magazine.

“It was a sign,” Ali said. “I’m not sure from who, but it was a sign.”

You might not recognize the name Remi Ali, but if you’ve heard his tagline “2KForbes filmed it” in Instagram videos, you know him. Ali’s brand, 2KForbes, has grown into one of the most notable sports-video accounts in the DMV. He’s also an assistant coach to the JV boys basketball team for Blair High School, his alma mater.

Ali’s origins as a basketball player for Blair inspired him to tape high school athletes during the college recruitment process. He’s also made mixtapes for non-high school athletes, including professional tennis player Venus Williams, Clemson football-commit Bryan Bresee, Michigan State basketball player Rocket Watts, Denver Nuggets player Jerami Grant and Atlanta Hawks players Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando. 

Ali purchased his first camera, a Canon T6i, in 2017, and has since expanded his social media presence to garner 22,800 Instagram followers, including thousands of MCPS students.  His videos are now a form of social media clout students strive for, hoping for the chance for Ali to feature their school in a 2KForbes video.

“I’m always happy when I’m engaged with people,” Ali said. “It’s so refreshing to know that not only do people know who I am, but they enjoy my content. If people have been sticking with me for months on end, they know the personality I have behind them.”

His first experience filming a mixtape was for a friend playing basketball at Montgomery College. After that, Ali began tailoring his interest in videography, or “making things come to life,” as he calls it. Once he finished editing that mixtape, he realized that while college basketball videography is a valid career, most high school players fly under the radar, without any type of high-quality filming. He even remembers thinking that when he played basketball in high school — and he wanted to change it.

The name 2KForbes has a backstory rooted in the Appalachian highlands, at Maryland’s only four-year college west of the Baltimore-Washington passageway: Frostburg State University. Ali, an accounting major there at the time, was dreaming of entrepreneurship and the Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ List. He decided he needed a concrete goal, so he set his eyes on one in particular: he was going to make this list by 2020. 

Bored in class one day, Ali changed his Instagram username to “Forbes2K20.” Eventually, a friend convinced him to tweak it once more to his current, iconic handle. Regardless of what stage of the video-making process he’s in, Ali always stays focused on his goal of making the Forbes list.

“Money is critical in the Forbes list, but what’s really critical is how much of a voice you have and how many people you can move,” he said. “I feel like in the community that we’re in — Montgomery County and the DMV — I’m really making some noise.”

One of Ali’s most recent uploads on 2KForbes was a video for Quince Orchard High School’s football game against Northwest High School. Ali included a clip of Quince Orchard senior Ben Fleischer, decked head to toe in QO red, cheering on his team. 

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Fleischer said. “I was just someone in the crowd, and then I realized I was a part of something that would be seen by many people across the county.”

Ali is currently in the beginning stages of making a documentary about Blair basketball players Cannuscio and Alfred Worrell III, whom he called his basketball “mentees.” He’ll release the documentary as a series on YouTube, accompanying other in-depth projects he’s made, including one on Fernando. Making a documentary takes more planning and cinematic shots than mixtapes, he said. 

“I don’t always want to keep myself in one box and just do the same thing over and over,” Ali said. “It’s always good to go outside of your own comfort zone and do things that you haven’t done before.”

Throughout college and his career so far, one trait has remained consistent in Ali — his work ethic. He attributes a lot of his inspiration to his persistent attitude, which he inherited from his mother, he said. 

“My success is not by accident,” Ali said. “There are a lot of key things that I did through this journey that have propelled those numbers to climb more exponentially than the next man. I think the biggest thing is I was just using my head.”