LeBron helps design sneaker for disabled athletes
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James watches from the bench during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
By Tom Withers, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James has teamed up on a special sneaker for special athletes.
The Cavaliers star and Nike have unveiled a new shoe designed for disabled athletes that can be slipped on and off more easily. The LeBron Soldier 10 FlyEase is modeled after the signature shoe worn by James, but it has no laces and can be secured with Velcro straps and zippers.
"It's about us empowering every kid and everybody to understand we are all athletes," James said.
The project is near and dear to James, a father of three. He hosted kids from the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital for Rehabilitation last week at the team's facility and presented them with new pairs of the stylish, slip-on sneakers.
This game continues to humble me… it’s bigger than basketball, it’s about kids & dreams. These shoes are for the athlete & the dreams in every kid, regardless of their physical ability. A special thank you to the young kings & queens from Cle Clinic Children’s who helped me debut the new Soldiers!! #striveforgreatness🚀 #nikeflyease
"Sports should never be taken away from a kid," the three-time NBA champion said. "It creates fun. It creates laughter. It creates brotherhood or sisterhood. To be able to have shoes that are easy to get on and off gives kids another opportunity to live out their dreams."
Longtime Nike designer Tobie Hatfield said the new model is designed to eliminate the struggle for some kids to simply get the shoe on their foot.
"One of the key learnings we've had in crafting accessible footwear is the importance of easy entry and exit of the shoe, not just simplifying its fastening system," Hatfield said. "Eliminating the intricate hand movement of lace tying is important, but if the athlete cannot get their foot into the shoe, lacing becomes a moot point."