Sneakers Tell Stories Vol. 9

By Charlie Green

Kenny’s LeBron 8’s

Kenny’s love for sneakers started early on in his life.  He grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan, and sneakers were a way to stick out in the crowds of the big city.  Your shoes were also a sign of affluence. “In New York, you’re not being driven to school in your mom’s car,” he says.  Kenny’s passion has developed over the years from “scheming” his mom for $20 at a time to buy a $80 pair of Nike Air Jordan 4’s, to buying his favorite pair of Lebron’s sneakers twice so he could wear them casually as well as on the basketball court.  He considers himself a shoe “acquirer” as opposed to a shoe “collector.”  He buys shoes to wear them.


Kenny describes how one of New York’s most appealing qualities is that its eclectic people aren’t afraid to be themselves, especially when it comes to style.  “I always wanted to be the kid that was different,” he remembers.  He knew there was a way to be unique even if he was being influenced by the same culture as the masses.  Someone once told Kenny his style was “European hip-hop,” and that he “was the classiest Puerto Rican she had ever met.”  This description resonated with him.  He was wearing a cardigan, nice fitted jeans and copper Foamposites at the time.  His style is a juxtaposition of urban street footwear and chic European clothing.  He believes good, unique style develops as an individual figures out a way to feel good in clothes they can afford. “You look like a fool when you have a $500 watch and then I go into your house and you’re sleeping on the floor.”  Balance is key.


The shoes that are most meaningful in Kenny’s collection are his Lebron 8 v/2’s in the “Entourage” colorway.  He has an answer for when people ask what his favorite sneaker of all time is, and this is not it.  But these have a story.  Six years ago, he arrived early for a second date.  As any sneakerhead would do on 34th Street and 7th Avenue, he found the closest sneaker store.  “You go in, you browse, you can lose 20 minutes in there no problem.”  His heart began to race as he looked up on the wall and saw the Lebron 8 “Entourage” that he had missed out on a month earlier.  As he asked one of the clerks for his size, he found himself in a situation many of us have been in: that moment where you almost hope they don’t have your size, because you can’t afford to spend $200 on a new pair of sneakers.  They had his size; it was kick destiny.  By the time he was at the counter he was late for his date.  He couldn’t very well hide the shoe box, so he explained himself.  “She got it,” he recalled,  “She even wanted to see the shoe!”  That pair became her favorite shoe of his many, and that date wasn’t their last.


There’s no greater feeling than that first few days when your kicks are crispy, and then there’s nothing worse than when that first scuff mark hits you like a frying pan in the face.  Sneakers have taught Kenny a valuable lesson in life: take care of your possessions.  “I nurture them, I tend to them, I bathe them, I do my best to try to keep them going.”  This is a lesson he has passed down to his 12-year-old daughter, who also likes kicks and has learned how to clean them properly.  He hopes she is learning value and building a foundation of understanding the importance of taking care of the things in your life that mean something to you, material or not.  Kenny remembers his mom saying, “This is it for the year, these are your sneakers.”  By the time the next year rolled around, he made sure that not only did they last, but he wasn’t embarrassed wearing them in the street.  Knowing he had to make his shoes last has turned Kenny into the caring and gentle sneakerhead he is today.  “I don’t have any respect for someone who’s never put tongue to thumb and then thumb to sneaker.  If you don’t know what it feels like to stop in the middle of the street and do that, we can’t talk, we can’t relate.”  You guessed it; Kenny is a stand-up comedian.


Kenny has heard many definitions of the term sneakerhead, often revolving around how many shoes a person owns.  For him, it’s more simple than that.  “It is a guy or gal who loves sneakers.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.”  Kenny says sneakers will always be a part of his life because of “where the smell of a brand-new pair of sneakers takes [him].”  Still nothing compares to that feeling of going into a little shoe store, trying on a pair, and saying to the clerk, “I’m taking ‘em!”  Kenny is different than most.  He isn’t concerned with the way other people feel about the heat on his feet.  “There are so many different opportunities in NYC to catch a glimpse of your sneakers.  I’ll be walking down the street and they’re in the reflection of a parked car, the side of a building, a phone booth or a hot dog stand, even.  I am wearing them for me.”  Kenny is true to himself which is not something everybody can claim.  He is truly a 1 of 1, something we in the sneaker community can all aspire to be.

Do you have a pair of sneakers that tell a story?  Share them with us.  Post your pictures to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #SneakersTellStories and include why they are special to you for a chance to be featured on the weekly blog.

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