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I grew up dreaming the same way every Hooper dreams. I wanted to dominate in high school, go to a big division 1 school, and then of course play in the NBA. Everything you see from the worlds best players, I wanted that at the age of 14. You see the stars on tv and they’re almost like gods in a sense. They have all the money a person can ask for, they get the prettiest women, 1st class everything, private jets, I wanted all of that but more than anything, I wanted to have my own pair of shoes. A shoe gives you a real signature more than anything else in the basketball world in my opinion. But It’s needless to say, I didn’t make it close to the NBA...missed it by a mile. Went my whole life believing I would make it one day and was depressed when I realized that was just a dream. And once I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I ended up creating my own lane and somehow got my first pair of kicks.
I remember my first pair of Jordan’s. It really did give me an elite feeling. Never wanted to get them dirty, had to wear them with the right pair of jeans, all of that. You just feel like you’re apart of an exclusive club when you got heat on your feet. The feeling multiplies when you’re young, and watching MJ on tv shooting fade-aways while sticking his Tongue out, and flying throw the air. It actually makes the shoes feel even more important and gives you a reason to want to spend more money because you also become attached emotionally. Years later, I now understand exactly how that works. But I only know because I’ve personally experienced it.
About four years ago, I went to a gym and sat down to lace my shoes up...sort of tired from the day. There was this kid playing a one on one they kept looking over and making eye contact with me...he was probably like 13 years old. Mind you, this was before I had a really big following.
This kid starts bringing out every move in the book...crossovers...shamgods ....step backs, and his last move for game was one of my favorite shot hesi's when the defender jumps. He executed it perfect. So I go over to him after he won and I’m like, “man that was a really good move, who did you learn that from?”. He looked at me like a deer in the head lights , cheeks were red, and he says “ I learned it from you, I watch your videos.”
The funniest part is i start laughing and look downwards and he was wearing vans.
If any of you know me, you know I use to train and play in vans when I first got into this because I couldn’t afford shoes on my own. I’d go to school in vans, go out in them, and hoop in them. VANS are not a basketball shoe so when I saw this I’m like dang, I really convinced this kid that it’s cool to play in vans. I immediately made the connection though, it’s exactly what I use to do with MJ.
Impacting a person emotionally is a beautiful thing. It’s one thing to make a person want to say something verbally, but to make them act physically is a whole different ball game. After my trip in China, i made a friend...more like a brother. His name is Winter. He told me that one day he’s going to make an IN THE LAB shoe. He too was motivated by my youtube series but more than that, we got a chance to experience life together.
If you guys saw my mixtape and kind of kept up with my story, you’ll know that I went out to china and pretty much did a tour to a few different cities. During that tour, Winter and I (amongst other people) traveled together, ate together, laughed together, and we were able to tell lots of stories of the past. For him it was probably a cool experience because in a way I was like a celebrity out there so he was able to just kick it with me on a deeper level than most. But little did he know, I was a fan of his art work and how deeply he connected art and basketball. Being around him taught me so much in the 40 days I was there.
Long story short, winter contacted me one day after he left adidas and showed me drawings of a shoe he wanted to create. I’m sure you guys know people who talk about doing stuff, but not very many actually do it. Seeing his drawings made me think that maybe he actually is serious about getting in the shoe game.
Winter ended up bouncing around to different companies, disappointing experience after disappointing experience and then finally decided to gather a team and create his own brand (Equalizer).
Months after creating the brand, he sent over this picture.
I’m not going to lie, I shed a man tear lol. I thought my dream of getting a shoe was over with but no.....here it was right In front of me. He said said something along the lines of how he told me he was going to do it, and let me know that he wouldn’t have done it for anyone but his “brother” which meant a lot.
And now, here I am. Dropping my first pair of kicks, all because I was able to inspire one key person. And the best part about it is, I like how they look, feel, and perform. Believe me, I’d tell you if I thought they were trash lol. Of course this will be a lot of work because the shoe business is brutal and not many last, but I’m believing this first run will go well. If you’re able to support please do, if not, pray that it goes well for me. Because if it does, It could be the beginning of something special that will last longer than we live.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support IN THE LAB, this is our family and together we're building something special.
- Devin Williams