While Milwaukee Bucks small forward Jabari Parker was born and bred in Chicago and is signed with Jordan Brand, his adolescent footwear obsessions weren't focused on Air Jordans. In fact, he couldn't wear them.
"My dad purposefully didn't have us wearing Jordans because of the robberies and the stick-ups when we were kids," Parker told Sole Collector at the grand opening of Champ Sports' Arena store in Chicago on Wednesday. "When time moved on and they started producing more [Jordans], I started being into the culture."
Parker was born in 1995, so the golden era of Air Jordans would have passed by the time he really became aware of sneakers. Because of that, and his father's hesitance around Jordans, he was reared on Nike Basketball styles like Vince Carter's Shox BB4s and the Huarache 2K4s.
Champs Sports honored Parker and his father, retired NBA player and prominent Chicago organizer Sonny Parker, at its Arena store by inducting them into its Wall of Champions. The father-son duo spoke as part of a Jordan Brand panel featuring Chicago locals focused on the theme of respect. This theme is tied to Jordan's "Re2pect" campaign, which was originally built around Derek Jeter's retirement but will now be brand-wide.
While the younger Parker recalled his father's worries around the danger of wearing certain sneakers in Chicago, Sonny downplayed the idea of the city being unsafe.
"I don't watch the news as much 'cause it's so much negative stuff going on in our community," Sonny said. "I'm not afraid of our community."
Jabari may have grown up without Jordans, but he now has an abundance of them, with the brand constantly sending him free sneakers. He's begun to turn his sneaker shipments into a good for local Milwaukee kids.
"It got to a point where I got sick of shoes," Jabari said. "Because they send me every shoe that comes out, and it could be anything. I don't know what to do with them. I try to find as many kids as I can to give away shoes [to] around Milwaukee."