Tom Benson

Tom Benson, pictured with wife Gayle and granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc, grew up in the St. Roch neighborhood and graduated from Brother Martin High School and Loyola University.
Chuck Cook

When Tom Benson purchased the New Orleans Saints in 1985, the team had never had a winning season. Over the course of 30 years, Tom has helped reshape the team to become one of the NFL's most popular teams and a source of community pride throughout the Gulf South. 

While Tom's ongoing dispute over the legacy of his sports empire continues to unfold, NOLA Life Stories wanted to examine the man behind the headlines. Tom grew up in the St. Roch neighborhood and  is no stranger to hardship: the man climbed into the billionaire’s club from humble beginnings.

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by family members he recently removed as heirs of his NFL and NBA teams.

Benson’s lawyers filed an answer to the lawsuit yesterday in civil district court in New Orleans. He says he made a "deliberate, reasoned and difficult decision" to change his succession plan so that Gayle Benson, his wife of 10 years, inherits control of the teams.

Tom Benson is not leaving the Saints and Pelicans to his daughter and her children after all.

He agreed to a succession plan that will give his wife, Gayle, control of New Orleans' two major professional sports franchises after his death.

The 87-year-old Benson says his decision is meant to ensure the clubs' "long-term stability and success."

He says the move will also preserve the teams’ tradition of working for the good of New Orleans and the region.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hornets President Hugh Weber is leaving the NBA club as new owner Tom Benson appoints top Saints executives Dennis Lauscha and Mickey Loomis to oversee both teams. The change, made official on Monday afternoon, puts Lauscha in charge of both clubs' business operations.

Rita Benson LeBlanc will become vice chairman of the board of the New Orleans Saints and Dennis Lauscha will take over as president of the team.

Owner Tom Benson has announced Sunday that LeBlanc, his granddaughter, will expand her duties to include more management responsibilities in various Benson interests outside of the team. 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The NBA is awarding New Orleans the 2014 All-Star game, now that Saints owner Tom Benson has agreed to buy the Hornets and sign a lease extension at New Orleans Arena.

NBA Commissioner David Stern, who made the announcement in New Orleans with Benson and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday afternoon, says the All-Star game is a reward to the city and state for efforts to secure the Hornets' long-term future in Louisiana.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Hornets are enjoying a win for the fourth time in five games. On Sunday, Eric Gordon scored 18 points to lead New Orleans to an 88-75 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Saints owner Tom Benson attended his first game since Friday's announcement that he had agreed to buy the Hornets from the NBA.