Our month-long celebration of Black voices in trucking comes to a close with successful entrepreneur, Eric Ball who shared his miraculous story of survival as a teenager from the inner city of Chicago. Despite a crippling near-death experience, Ball’s resilience led to a career that ensures safety for trucking professionals across the country.
At an early age, Ball was introduced to a life of hardship. He was raised by a single mom who worked long hours to take care of his siblings and some extended family. “Because my mom was working all the time to pay the bills, I found myself experimenting and doing things I shouldn’t be doing.” Refusing to be a product of his environment, Ball made the move to Oklahoma where he enrolled at Langston University.
After some time, Ball decided to put his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice on hold. At 18, a visit back to his hometown took a tragic turn. Ball recalled a hazy memory of being shot in the head. After driving himself to the hospital, he slid into a coma for a few days. Doctors treated him for a fractured skull, broken frontal bone, and blood clot in his brain. It was unclear if he’d be able to live a normal life again.
During an 8-month recovery, Ball suffered from slowed speech, migraine headaches, and difficulty reading. When he healed, Ball said there was “no turning back” and returned to college, where he graduated and began a career in law enforcement. He worked within the driver safety division, where Ball enforced the laws of the road.
Family members who had hopes of becoming owner-operators relied on Ball’s legal expertise. And as he offered advice to them he realized there was a severe lack of knowledge for FMCSA rules and regulations. Ball was determined to change that.
He worked closely with motor carrier auditors, studying trucking violation enforcement, compliance and penalties. He learned that hefty fines could result in thousands of dollars for owner-operators — all of which could be avoided with further understanding of FMCSA expectations. Ball also encountered several life-or-death driving situations due to reckless behavior — something that hit close to home. “Knowing what I knew, I couldn’t keep the information to myself. It made me want to educate as many people as possible.”
Alongside three other trucking professionals, Ball co-founded The Trucking Cheat Code, which offers programming to educate new and tenured truck drivers on the ever-changing FMCSA regulations. Through coaching and mentorship, Ball empowers drivers and owner-operators with knowledge that could quite literally save lives. He compared trucking to his career in law enforcement, saying “a lot of officers understand that when you put the uniform on, you may not come home. When you own a trucking company, you don’t know how your drivers are behaving – you just trust that they’ll come home. It’s too big of a risk to not know the ins and outs of safety.”
Through The Trucking Cheat Code and his newly-formed company Truckestates, which provides one-on-one safety coaching and tax preparation for incoming truck drivers, Ball has proved that success can be achieved regardless of the circumstances. “After being shot, no one thought I would ever be normal again. When I think about where I’m at in life now, it’s truly been a blessing.”
You can follow Ball’s success and learn more about his upcoming courses via Instagram on @truckestates and @thetruckingcheatcode.