The truth is I’ve been into sneakers longer than I can remember. Sometimes I pick up old photos of me growing up as child in Brooklyn, New York and I ask myself, “Where did I get those sneakers at age six and how did I keep them so pristine?” I’ll tell you how: my mom, the O.G. Mrs. Jaclynn “don’t run up on her the wrong way or you will regret it” Jones. She made sure I always had the best of the best. After all, I was a representation of her and she wanted the world to know. When she got me my first pair of Stan Smiths, the white and green ones, I remember them being super clean. The white beamed off the concrete in my neighborhood of Crown Heights. As a shorty, I was tasked with keeping these sneakers clean, or my ass was on the line. I wasn’t allowed to destroy a pair of sneakers with childlike play similar to some of my friends. My mom wanted me to understand the value of a dollar and just how hard she worked to afford those sneakers. Ruining them would be akin to disrespecting her grind. Looking back now, I know no one’s grind was harder than Mrs. Jones. You best believe the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with that trait, either.
From that purchase and a slew of others, she would create my alter ego, Sneaker Galactus: the all-encompassing villain who consumes every resource in his path. My goal was and still is to consume all these kicks because in my mind it’s a competition. Maybe it stems from my roots as a New York City basketball player. We don’t know how to spell lose.
To make sure I got every pair I wanted, I devised an ingenious ways to support my habit in high school. I would pilfer the change left in my school’s soda machine, and take that money to buy the latest hip-hop albums at The Wiz. I’d then make multiple copies of the album and sell the tapes to my friends for about $4.00 apiece. If you saw me coming down the hall with my Tommy Hilfiger duffle bag you knew you had a chance to cop the latest tracks. Whatever money I made, my mom promised to come up with the other half for me to buy the sneaker I desired at that time. Thankfully, I’m now fully employed and don’t have to dub tapes for sneakers. I mostly complete my collection through buying from trusted sources that I’ve met in my travels or on the internet.
Growing up, I’ve been told time and time again that “I can’t do,” “I won’t do,” “I will amount to nothing,” and “I’ll never have the things I want.” But when I’m rocking my high-fashion, rare sample kicks or pushing my BMW drop top through Midtown Manhattan I can’t help but laugh and say, “Look at me now.” That’s the same approach I take to sneakers. Every pair says “Oh you gon’ get this work.”
In the end, my collection, my look, my style will always reign supreme over the next person’s. When someone looks at my collection or just me on any given day I want them to think I set the bar while they are simply trying to attain my greatness. I never want to dim my light because people can’t handle my shine. Sneakers help me shine.
While this sneaker game has changed since I first got those Stan Smiths, my attitude toward originality and being the freshest has stayed the same. Because like fellow New Yorker Nasir Jones said, “It ain’t hard to tell, I excel then prevail.”