NBA Star Chris Paul Doubles Down on Supporting HBCUs
Posted By: Will Moss on August 10, 2020 |
It was the summer of 2018 and Chris Paul was preparing for his second year with the Houston Rockets. That preparation included a very important meeting with his longtime stylist Courtney Mays.
The main focus of their discussion: How could they take advantage of the growing spotlight placed on Paul’s fashion and sneakers to send a message? And what would that message be?
They eventually settled on a plan to support Black designers and historically Black colleges and universities via school apparel. Though Paul went to Wake Forest, practically everyone else in his family attended an HBCU.
Shortly after, Mays made a visit to Texas Southern, her father’s alma mater. She went to the campus bookstore to purchase a souvenir and noticed a sweatshirt that looked perfect for Paul.
Fast forward to opening night at the Toyota Center. CP3 walked through the tunnel to the locker room wearing that hoodie. Cameras captured the moment; social media accounts shared it; reporters asked about it; blogs wrote about it.
Awareness started spreading. The plan started working.
“I remember wearing the Texas Southern hoodie and all the responses I got from people, like, I went there, I went there,” recalls Paul. “I think a lot of people need to know that some of their favorite people, whoever it may be, they are products of historically Black colleges and universities.”
Two years later, with Paul preparing for the NBA’s 2019-20 restart in Orlando, the approach remained the same.
He came up with an idea to use his Jordan sneakers as a canvas to celebrate different HBCUs in the Thunder’s eight remaining regular season games. (So far, he’s represented North Carolina A&T, Alabama A&M, Howard, Livingstone and Albany State. More to come.) Each pair has the respective institution’s name, logo and color scheme; and Paul has also written words on the midsoles related to the nationwide fight against racism and police ****.
Mays worked to put together outfits that either matched the kicks directly or highlighted other notable causes. According to her, 99 percent of what Paul brought to the bubble is either made by a Black designer, promotes an HBCU or contains a social justice message.
With the HBCUs, the objective is to tell a complete story and really try to educate fans. Paul also partnered with Support Black Colleges, a clothing line founded by two Howard students, to assist at that goal. The company creates graphics for Paul’s Instagram to be posted after the games, providing additional information about the HBCU featured that day (location, motto, fun facts and more).
“Seeing how the tunnel walks have become this monumental moment—guys are watching the game but they’re also watching to see on social what the guys are wearing—we thought, Wow, we can use this moment as a storytelling opportunity,” Mays tells SLAM. “I feel like now more than ever I’ve found my voice and my purpose as a stylist with Chris, because we’re able to use fashion and sport to really champion things that are important to us.”
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