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VanVleet, a winner on and off the court

We do not often hear about NBA champions let alone players in general who have a college degree, let's go a little deeper; we do not hear of NBA players who graduate from college, make a roster (undrafted) then go on to win a NBA championship.

You must possess some confidence in yourself and your game to refuse D league offers after not being drafted by any NBA team, and that's what a 6'1” kid from Rockwood Illinois did.

Like most kids in the United States who get introduced to basketball at an early age, Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet found the game of basketball at age five, using a volleyball to practice his handles and getting the ball in-between his legs and it was during his childhood that his love for the game grew and so did his confidence.

“I just remember the first time I learned how to go between my legs and figure out how to dribble,” he says. “I just got really excited, then the love of it just kind of kept building from there,” he said.

Since college, Fred made his way not just into the NBA and Toronto Raptors first Championship in the team's 24 years of existence, but in the fashion arena too, recently landed a sneaker endorsement deal with AND1. But how did this young fellow get into fashion?

Growing up in Illinois, it's almost a given to be a fan of the Chicago Bulls but that was not the case for young VanVleet who became a fan of Kobe Bryant during the Shaq and Kobe era of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Fast forward to 11-year-old VanVleet, who knew he could play basketball at a higher level, having played against his brothers’ friends and being just as good, if not better than them. He played for the Shockers (Wichita State University) for four years before entering the 2016 NBA draft.

Picks went on and his name was not called. However a call changed the trajectory of his career and mentality came from his then agent Christian Dawkins, who said three words that stuck with VanVleet till this day and also inspired him to start a clothing store - “Bet on yourself.”

“I remember seeing Kyle Lowry walk onto a plane wearing something with his own logo on an Adidas jacket,” he says. “I'm like, that looks cool. I want my own."

With this big idea, he linked up with some people from his hometown in Rockwood to create a logo and print out T-shirts that would soon sellout via Facebook posts and family members.

Soon after that, fvvshop came to life in an online store that stocks clothes with the FVV logo on them, and some of the best selling items carrying the mantra: “Bet on yourself.”

VanVleet intends to continue working hard on and off the court, and has plans to come up with more original designs and premium quality fits.

By Nthabiseng Mushi

@nthabi4real on instagram

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