James Anthony Smith, a 17-year-old high school student from the District of Columbia, is the latest victim of the toxic side of sneaker culture. He was fatally shot by a gunman on Monday who took the pair of brand new $220 red Nike Air Jordans he received as an early Christmas gift from his mother, The Washington Post reported.
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“He was an all-American kid. He loved his red shoes. He loved basketball. He loved his computer games. . . . I can’t believe he was killed, all over a pair of shoes,” James’ mother, Benita Smith, said.
The teen is now part of the statistic: approximately 1,200 people die every year in violence related to someone taking a pair of high-end athletic footwear. The shooting occurred on an outdoor basketball court. Investigators said James ran one block after being shot and was found shoeless on a street, dying less than two hours later at a hospital. So far, there are no arrests in the ongoing investigation.
The other side of sneaker culture is quite different. Some sneakerheads, as the extreme enthusiasts are called, have spent thousands to collect the footwear. Designer Jeff Staple said some of the most collectible editions are like artwork, CBS News reported. “When you think about the artistic design process, a lot of these shoe designers are ex-car designers or architects or industrial designers,” he said. Indeed, the Brooklyn Museum held an exhibit in 2015 to examine the aesthetics of sneakers and the rise of sneaker culture.
What’s art for one person, however, is a status symbol for others that they must have by any means. Howard White, the senior vice president of Jordan Brand, said he’s “saddened” by the violence surrounding the popular Air Jordans, he told Esquire. To White, the bright side of the sneaker craze in poor urban communities is when a young person is motivated to get their first job to purchase a pair of expensive Jordans.
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In Memoriam: Celebrities We Lost In 2017
1. Erica Garner, 27Source:Getty 1 of 24
2. LeRoy Frasier, 80Source:Getty 2 of 24
3. Don Hogan Charles, 79Source:Getty 3 of 24
4. Combat Jack, 48Source:Getty 4 of 24
5. Mamie Johnson, 82Source:Getty 5 of 24
6. Della Reese, 86Source:Splash News 6 of 24
7. Simeon Booker, 99Source:Getty 7 of 24
8. David Cassidy, 67Source:Getty 8 of 24
9. Fats Domino, 89Source:Getty 9 of 24
10. Robert Guillaume, 89Source:Getty 10 of 24
11. Tom Petty, 66Source:Getty 11 of 24
12. Bernie Casey, 78Source:Getty 12 of 24
13. Jim Vance, 75Source:Getty 13 of 24
14. Fresh Kid Ice, 53Source:Getty 14 of 24
15. Charlie Murphy, 57Source:Getty 15 of 24
16. Chuck Berry, 90Source:Getty 16 of 24
17. James Cotton, 81Source:Getty 17 of 24
18. Joni Sledge, 60Source:Getty 18 of 24
19. Clyde Stubblefield, 73Source:Getty 19 of 24
20. Al Jarreau, 76Source:Getty 20 of 24
21. Mary Tyler Moore, 80Source:Getty 21 of 24
22. Lee "Q" O'Denat, 43Source:Getty 22 of 24
23. Bishop Eddie Long, 63Source:Getty 23 of 24
24. Roy Innis, 82Source:Getty 24 of 24