Dakota Rivers: Making an Impact On and Off the Court


Jessica Piland

Senior men’s basketball player Dakota Rivers has enjoyed success on the court over his three seasons at FGCU.

Nick Asselin, Sports Editor

You wouldn’t think someone that makes TikTok content about video games and gets recognized online by musician Lil Yachty would be an FGCU basketball player; Except it is. 

Senior men’s basketball player Dakota Rivers has enjoyed success on the court over his three seasons at FGCU. With 383,800 followers on TikTok, he’s had his fair share of success off the court as well. Putting the two together, Rivers is considered one of the most interesting personalities on the FGCU men’s basketball team.

Rivers began playing basketball in eighth grade and played throughout high school. During the most important months of basketball in his senior year, Rivers slightly tore his quadricep in his left leg, putting his collegiate career in jeopardy. 

“That was the worst time to get hurt,” Rivers said. “At that time, a lot of colleges were deciding to pull back on my scholarship offers and they were taking away a lot of the opportunities I had.”

After recovering from his injury, one of Rivers’ coaches invited back every college coach that had offers on the table to see him play. Rivers says he ended up with 20 to 25 Division I scholarship offers but chose FGCU because they never turned away from him.

“I decided to choose FGCU out of all of them because they never pulled back on me,” Rivers said. “They still believed in me. They believed my potential was still there and they knew even when I came back from my injury, I’ll be a lot better than I was before, which I was.”

Rivers dunks during the FGCU men’s basketball game against Ave Maria on November 13, 2022. Rivers scored 9 points for the Eagles during this game. (Jessica Piland)

When looking back on his injury, Rivers believes it helped more than what it hurt. He said he was able to learn more about his body and how to be better prepared for training in college.

“I learned a lot more about my body with the injury,” Rivers said. “I’m stretching a lot more, lifting a lot more and making sure my body is held in the best shape as possible when I got into college so, that was the best thing. Honestly, the injury hurt a lot, but it definitely helped more than hurt.”

In 2020, Rivers started making TikTok videos after one of his friends introduced him to it. As of Feb. 2023, Rivers has gained 383,800 followers and amassed 17.4 million likes on the platform. His username is @dakotarivers. 

“I made my first TikTok in 2020 and it was something really crazy,” Rivers said. “It was just stupid. It got like 200 views in a day and I thought ‘That’s 200 people that saw it, it’s kind of interesting.’ I mean, I don’t know if it’s 200, maybe it could be like one person watching it.”

Rivers says when he started using TikTok, it felt different from any other social media platform he had used before. When he was active on Instagram, he kept his circle close with just his friends.

“When I got on TikTok, I thought it was just something I could use to just be myself,” Rivers said. “The TikTok views started going from 200 to 1,000 around March, and then it would go to 10,000 in April. So, then I was like, ‘Okay, there’s a lot of people thinking that think my videos are interesting.’”

When Rivers first started, he posted athletic comedy videos that people could relate to but then branched out into making workout videos. Along with his basketball content, Rivers has made videos relating to music, video games and his family. 

Dakota Rivers (0) shoots a 3-pointer against Jacksonville University on February 26, 2023. (Jessica Piland)

“I like branching out because I don’t want people to think I’m just a one-sided person,” Rivers said. “I love talking about my family, my girlfriend obviously, basketball and things that I enjoy, such as like playing video games or anything amongst that category. I really enjoy being myself on there.”

Rivers spoke about one of his most popular videos where he responded to a comment saying his voice sounded similar to how musician Lil Yachty talks. The video received 8.2 million views and a reaction from Lil Yachty.

“I think at the moment it was pretty cool,” Rivers said. “Getting Lil Yachty’s reaction to my video and getting all these people that I guess are famous or verified was pretty cool.”

Rivers says the fame his videos have brought him hasn’t deterred him from spreading a positive message and making an impact on someone’s life.

“I think all the other stuff didn’t really mean anything to me,” Rivers said. “I mean obviously people think I sounded like somebody. ‘Okay, congratulations.’ But to have an impact on someone’s life and health and it’s all because of me. I think that means a lot to me.”

This basketball season, Rivers has set new personal season highs for games started, minutes played and rebounds, which is something he credits new Head Coach Pat Chambers for. Rivers also has his best field goal percentage since his freshman year. 

In the Eagles Feb. 9 matchup against North Florida, Rivers shot a game-winning 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining. It put an end to the Eagles 5-game losing streak. Rivers may have provided the Eagles with the light they needed to turn their season around.

“I hate losing more than anybody else,” Rivers said. “I hope at some point it could be the very next game that the light just switches and we all just play for each other and learn how valuable winning is and how much it actually takes to win.”