Life comes at you fast when you become a lottery pick in the NBA Draft.
In the midst of non-stop media, returning phone calls and text messages and traveling from California to Atlanta, streetwear designer Don C gifted Onyeka Okongwu with exclusive apparel ahead of draft night.
The apparel Okongwu received was a part of Foot Locker’s “12 Days of Greatness,” which has been described as a unique basketball-inspired holiday collection celebrating universal love of the game.
“In looking to use the draft as a moment to celebrate the return of the NBA and commemorate the next generation of stars,” a representative affiliated with the campaign told Peachtree Hoops. “Onyeka’s explosive game made him the perfect recipient for the exclusive merch.”
The t-shirt Okongwu received reads “Focus” at the top in red-crayon like animated font, with the image of a ball swishing a net in the center, below the ball are the animated words “on the game,” in the bottom right corner is the No. 21 and the “Just Don” signature in the bottom left corner of the shirt’s graphic. “Just Don” is Don C’s streetwear and sports apparel brand. The No. 21 is Okongwu’s tribute to his late brother, Nnamdi, who wore the No. 21 at Chino Hills High School. The crayon-like animation represents Okongwu’s childhood ambition.
“It’s me looking at it, dreaming about it as a kid,” Okongwu said. “Writing it as a kid in crayon, ‘Focus.’ It’s tough, for sure.”
For clarification, “tough” is slang for “cool,” a modern form of “tight,” if you will.
Don C is an avid sports fan whose fashion pieces often reflect that. In one of his latest efforts with Okongwu, his passion took no exception.
“I thought back on the moments that basketball was the vessel to learn life principles and values – such as hard work, endurance and friendship – and tried to interpret those moments on some T-shirts,” Don C’s statement to Peachtree Hoops read.
Don C has collaborated with many brands in the past including Louis Vuitton and the Jordan Brand. He was Kanye West’s former manager. He was West’s best man at the hip-hop artist’s 2014 wedding.
Okongwu has repeatedly said he hopes his NBA career mirrors Bam Adebayo’s as an athletic, modern big with an explosive game around the rim on both sides of the floor. The Hawks rookie has caught many lobs in his young career, especially in high school from former teammates New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball.
LaMelo and Okongwu have been particularly close, as the only two freshmen starting on Chino Hills 2016-17 team that went 35-0.
“I had every class with this dude, too,” LaMelo said in an interview with Fox Sports South’s Ashley ShahAhmadi. “Every day, we would go to the school, see the classes and go to the counseling office and just say, ‘Put us both in the same classes.’
“It’s amazing to see (Okongwu get drafted) now too, obviously. Seeing how hard he worked and everything, and seeing his goals and dreams come true.”