Designing for a superstar 

Twenty-four lucky students meet Kobe Bryant, design special shoe for him.

April 13, 2009

Photo courtesy of Nike

View the Video 


Twenty-four CPS students got a chance to see their shoe designs turn into reality thanks to an NBA superstar and a unique after school program.


A basketball star needs some new kicks


Two months ago, 12 eighth-graders from Claremont Elementary, 2300 W. 64th St., and 12 eighth-graders from Parkside Elementary, 6938 SE End Ave.—all part of the After-School All-Stars program—went to the downtown Nike corporate offices in Chicago to compete in a contest to design a shoe for Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant.


The students, in four groups of six, designed the shoe online at the Nike ID website with the help of Nike employees. During the design process, the students were able to choose various components of the shoe, including color and material. They were also able to add personalized messages to the shoe.


Once completed, the shoe designs were sent to the Nike head office in Portland where the winning design was chosen and would be revealed to the students at a later date.


And the winning sneaker is…


Last month, the students gathered at Walsh Elementary, 2015 S. Peoria St. for the big reveal. Each team presented their shoe design—now an actual physical product—to Bryant and explained to him their concept. While each team incorporated the Lakers’ team colors and specific elements that reflected Kobe’s style of play, Team Venom was chosen the winner. Bryant explained it was the only shoe to use snakeskin in its design, which the three Claremont and three Parkside students chose as a reference to Kobe’s nickname, “The Black Mamba.”


“Everybody did a fantastic job, especially relating the design to the game itself,” said Bryant after the winning shoe design was revealed. “We talk about it with Nike all the time…be creative with a sense of purpose. I appreciate everybody putting their time and effort into doing that, and I want to thank you. Congratulations to Team Venom.”


All students were surprised with a pair of the shoes they designed, and Team Venom was surprised with a ticket to the Bulls-Lakers game the following day.


“Seeing him walk through the door, I had to pinch myself,” said Juwan, a member of Team Venom and a Parkside student.


Kobe also spent time with Walsh After-School All-Stars and the Simeon boys’ basketball team during a basketball clinic, where he helped them run drills.


After-School All-Stars is a national program in 13 cities, including Chicago, providing after-school and out-of-school programs for at-risk youth. Chicago Public Schools has the program’s largest site, serving about 38,000 students.


Learn more about After-School All-Stars.