If you were a kid growing up in the late ’80s and ’90s, there was nothing like your first pair of Air Jordans. There was something majestic about them. Thanks to brilliant marketing and design, the sneakers linked you closer than ever to the game’s greatest player. A frequent influencer in the Champs Sports #GameHasPrivileges sneaker seeding program, Jon Griffey‘s story comes full circle with a pair of J’s that ignited his love for sneakers.
“My first pair of sneakers, as a kid, were the OG Playoff VIIIs,” he says, “but I never had money for sneakers until after college. Any pairs I did buy I beat to death, one pair at a time. I was a big fan of the AND1 Tai Chi, mainly because I could get them at Shoe Carnival for cheap. I also loved the Shelltoe patent leather adidas Pro Models; I think I went through three different colorways of those. Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy a pair of LeBron III Lows. But spending that kind of money on sneakers just wasn’t possible on a regular basis. I beat those things into the ground, and still have them!”
Once Griffey became more financially secure after college, he really started collecting. The pair that ignited his collection was the “Altitude” Air Jordan XIII from 2010. Still, building a sneaker YouTube brand or a collection at that is not an easy task. Holding down the handle @MyKicksFly, Griffey has gained a huge following online with his sneaker collection that is currently around the 300 mark.
“Space..I’m out of space…and true sneaker enthusiast have the same problem I do, I’m sure,” he says. “When you buy a sneaker, you buy it because you like it, so getting rid of stuff is tough. I never buy something just to buy it, so I need to find more space for my shoes.”
Every sneaker aficionado has some trouble finding a way to store their sneakers unless you are someone like new Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (planning on building a new house just for his sneakers). Griffey is a longtime Spurs fan, and relocated to San Antonio after spending his childhood in places like Louisiana and Dallas. Soon to be 35, Griffey says that the majority of the sneaker culture happens nearby in Houston but it’s social media that keeps him striving in the business.
“I live in a small town about an hour north of Houston so there is not much going on in my town,” he says. “We don’t have any boutiques, or sneaker conventions, but Houston, of course, is a big sneaker town so it’s not far to be a part of what’s going on there. Though I have to say, I’m a bit of a recluse when it comes to that. Most of the sneaker community I interact with is through social media.”
Griffey describes himself as a visual person, which is a reason why his favorite social platforms of choice is Instagram, where his @MyKicksFly account is nearing 28K followers.
“Social media in and of itself is both a blessing and a curse in my mind,” he says. “The fact that I can connect with others in the community from all over the world is amazing. I mean my YouTube Channel and Instagram allow me to share my thoughts and express my love for sneakers to anyone who cares to see or hear about me. I have developed relationships that I wouldn’t have otherwise if not for social media.”
Over the past couple years, he has talked and collaborated with guys like @NightWing2303, @YoAnty, @mrfoamersimpson, @Kustoo, @EddieWinKicks, and @jason_donnar_03, and says all the guys have all been nothing but gracious and cool to him, even though he humbly states “I’m not on their level.” He says that just about everyone he has met through the YouTube community have been regular guys who loves sneakers just like him.
“I’ve been a part of @YoAnty’s Sneaker Chat Live several times and that’s always a blast,” he says. “To me that’s what it’s about. I’ve been able to meet up with those at the last couple of All-Star Weekends.”
If you take a look at Griffey’s profile, you can see that his page has a little bit of everything when it comes to sneakers. But one thing that makes him different is his support for the Way of Wade sneaker line under the Li-Ning brand. Griffey finds that Dwyane Wade is someone who fully gravitates to the sneaker community.
“Dwyane Wade has been more connected than any other celebrity I’ve seen,” he says. “He regularly likes or comments on posts of his fans and specifically fans of his sneaker, engaging on social media, and he has even made surprise appearances to community-driven sneaker meet-ups. What the Way of Wade design team and D-Wade have done with that line is pretty incredible.”
One of his best experiences was getting an invite to Wade’s private birthday party a couple of years ago in Miami. It was on a Yacht with the majority of the Miami Heat team, including LeBron James, and his wife Gabrielle Union. It was a collection of his closest friends and family, and Griffey and four others who have been supporters of the Way of Wade brand were invited to attend.
“It was humbling, surreal, and something I will never forget.”
For the future, Griffey is looking forward to creating and finding more ways to connect within the community.
“I’m always looking for new opportunities to partner with brands, or other YouTubers,” he says. “There is nothing immediately in sight but since this is a hobby for me, I just keep my ears open and see what’s possible. Champs Sports and Rock ’em Apparel have been seeding product to me, and that’s a cool opportunity to review things I may or may not normally buy for myself, but I’d love to partner with a company or brand to do more and maybe use my knowledge and experience to bring something new to the table.”
Follow Jarrel on Twitter at @_JarrelHarris