Everyone remembers their first love. You remember everything about them. From the feeling you got the first time you met to the excitement and nervousness of your first date. You remember everything. Each moment acting as a check point in the story that is your life. Your first movie. Your first dance. Your first kiss. Your first… well, you know. You remember the names of those involved. What they wore. How they smelled. Where you were. These are the important memories you have locked inside the time capsule of your mind. And for a sneakerhead and their first shoe there’s no difference (Well, there is unless you take your shoes out on dinner dates and bring them back home to… well, you know. It’s 2014 and I’ve seen crazier things on the internet).

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I remember my first shoe, the black and red Air Jordan 12 – dubbed “Flu Game.” Up until this point I was used to going to Payless or K-Mart (do they still exist?) and getting whatever off brand shoe looked closest to the coolest looking Nike shoe at that time. I would think to myself “From a distance and if someone were squinting could these pass as Jordans?” And if that weren’t bad enough I had a cousin, Chene, who had every pair of every shoe. Dude was like 8 years old rocking player exclusives. I probably wouldn’t have been tormented as much if it weren’t for the fact that we were in the same grade and going to the same school. It got to the point where I started to wonder if he was Phil Knight’s secret love child and instead of paying child support Mr. Knight would just drop off a pair of shoes every week.

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Things reached the ultimate worse when in the 7th grade I had a pair of Pro-Wings (you know, the shoes old people wear when they power walk in the early hours of the morning at the local mall because they’re cheap and they’ve reached the age where you no longer care about what looks good as long as it helps ease the arthritis. Yeah those shoes.) and I used whiteout to cover the logo and hand drew Nike check marks in their place. I somehow made it through the entire school day without my classmates noticing (NOTE: this is before kids got soft and parents decided to bully proof everything, so things could’ve gotten real bad, real quick for me). It wasn’t until during our basketball game later that night that someone noticed. I played power forward and I was posting up, and right when I was making my move to shoot a fadeaway jumper a group of kids in the stands starting pointing at my feet. As I’m spinning into my fadeaway a kid points and yells out “Heeeyyy, look at that guys shoes. He drew those on there.” That’s when the sudden realization that “being poor sucked” hit my consciousness (later I found out that it wasn’t so much me being poor as it was my family being flagrantly cheap). But, as much humiliation and embarrassment I found myself in that day the basketball gods were in the process of doing me a huge favor.

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In the fall of 1997, my Aunt Juanita and I were headed to Eastland Mall on Detroit’s northeast side. Sports was a way that I was at least guaranteed a pair of new shoes each season. But this time things were different. Over the summer I had went from a shoe size 13 to a size 15. It would be the first and last time I would find joy when I would go to a store and they didn’t have what I needed. The K-marts (seriously, are they still around?) and Payless’ of the world didn’t go up to a size 15. This meant that my family would have to quit acting like poor peasants and cough up some dough for my new kicks. We went to every shoe store in the mall, finding nothing in my size, before finally stopping at the last one, Footlocker. My aunt asks the saleslady to bring out every basketball shoe they had in my size. I remember this moment distinctly. The lady comes out with 5 boxes and places them on a bench. I open up the first four boxes, NOTHING. And then I came to the fifth box. Now this is before Jordan Brand had their own specific box and Jordans came in the black Nike box with the red lid but for some reason I knew this box was special.

I took my time opening the box the same way Charlie slowly unwrapped that Wonka chocolate bar. But instead of finding a golden ticket I found something better, my first love. The black and red Air Jordan 12’s. I swear to this day that the lights dimmed in the store and a heavenly light shined from the box as I opened it. I think I saw a dove fly by and I swear Diddy (no wait, this is based in ’97. He still went by Puff Daddy then)……ok, Puffy was dancing in the corner with a reflective suit going “Take that, take that, take that.” That part is still kinda fuzzy but what I do know is that I was in love. I tried on the shoe. LIKE A GLOVE!!! (In my Ace Ventura voice). Got to the register and that’s when it seemed as if fate was going to once again “c” block. “$159.00”, said the saleslady. My aunt gave her a look. “Put them back, I’m not paying that much for a pair of shoes”. That’s when I started praying like crazy and it worked. Whether she did it because she needed the commission or because she genuinely felt sorry for me, the saleslady began to work my aunt. She sells her on the idea that more money meant better quality which in turn would save her money in the long run. I’m like, “Ain’t no way she’s gonna buy—“. “Okay, I’ll buy them this time but next time you’re getting something cheaper.”

I couldn’t wait to get home and show off my new girlfriend. I couldn’t wait to go to school and show her off to my classmates and to my Nike sponsored cousin. I had the hottest girl in the room with me (technically so did 3 other of my classmates but this is my story). That’s how most sneakerheads feel when they get their first shoe. The black and red 12’s aren’t necessarily the greatest looking shoe. I’ve purchased better looking shoes since then but they’ve remained my sentimental favorites. No matter how many shoes I own in my collection it still feels incomplete without them in my closet. It’s the same with your first real love. You might date better looking people but they’ll never replace that sentimental parking spot reserved for your first love.

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Most sneakerheads have a pretty good idea of the value of each shoe that comes out but that one shoe, their first, holds more nostalgic importance to them than any other. That one shoe sparked their love of sneakers. It has become the foundation of their passion as well as their collection. No matter what the average value is for that shoe on the market, it holds at least twice that much sentimental value with you. It’s like a family photo. You’re not going to see my family photo’s just as priceless as your own family photo. To each their own they say. No matter the shoe, we can all relate to that feeling of your first love. The day you became a sneakerhead. Tell us below, what was your first love?

1997 NBA Finals Game Five: Chicago Bulls v Utah Jazz

  • Carlton

    these and the bred 11s are my all time favorite shoes

  • Wilson Jr.

    my first love relating to shoes is the air jordan 5 metallic silver, so underrated

    • AJSTYLES

      The metallic 5s are my first love shoe 2 bro

    • cru

      This is the shoe that made me really take notice of Jordans (I was in 5th grade). Didn’t get a pair though, mom wouldn’t buy them.

  • FLU GAME 1997 June 11th

    These will always be a classic pair of shoes just because of MJ’s game performance while wearing them

  • Cru

    One of the best articles I’ve read on a sneaker site in a LONG time. So accurate. My story is similar, and yours brought back so many memories. My first Js were Carmine 6s. Mom wouldn’t pay Jordan prices and I’d wanted them SO badly for so long. But she wanted me to play basketball in middle school so much that she said if I tried out for the team she’d buy me the Jordans. Carmine 6 is to this day my favorite shoe of all time. Bought 3 pair just for me on this last release (and one for my wife and one for our daughter) because I never want to have to go without a pair!

  • Good shit

    The best article I read in forever and my favorite pair of shoes is the metalic 5s as well

  • john

    I had the bred 4s in 1999 in 4th grade, those aremy grails

  • buck

    Cool article I had those same 12s when they came out I remember paying 120 for them though. My first jz were a pair of 4s I think they were the bulls home colors it was so long ago I could be wrong. Again cool article.

  • JoeShmo510

    Love this story man its gotta bring all the true heads back to theirs. Mine was the cool grey 11s. And another funny thing about this story is this dudes corn ball comedy reminds me of myself. Haha good job SBD.

    • Afrikan Caesar

      Lol, cornball comedy? You know what? I’ll take it. Lol

  • Winston

    My first love has to be split in 2, like a broken heart. True Blues and Taxis.

  • OG_KiCKS_NJ

    Touching story, brings back those memories. I remember when I was growing up watching Fresh Prince . First pair I fell in love with had to be those Grape 5’s . Up until now I realized I had a pair of 94 Bred 1’s. Shame I threw them out as I got older

  • NoDay$Off

    My 1st live was the Nike dunk low “Jordan viii” I came back to school the 1st day of my 8th grade year wearing em and I wish I had a ds pair in my current size

  • Abdoulie Faal

    My first pair of Jordan’s were last year’s Oreo 5’s, and this was the first shoe I absolutely wanted as soon as i saw them.

    • OG_KiCKS_NJ

      New to the game I see, its nice having new people getting into the sneaker culture

  • As I read this story it made me smile. Because I was in that same position back in elementart/middle school. This story hit on so many levels of accuracy. I personally didn’t get my first Jordans until my Junior yr of HS (when I got a job) the low top white/red 15s. Those were the times you could just walk into a store and pick up a pair if you had the funds. As i’m older now and have my own funds I’m catching up on old times so to speak. Its good to read articles like these. Just to know that you guys are just like us and not hypebeast is nice. Great Article!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • BIGJ’s86

    Great story! My first pair of J’s were the origional fire red 4’s I was in first grade. Ill never forget how shocked I was that my Dad actually bought them for me. We werent poor growing up but Dad just wasnt the type of guy to pay $110 for a pair of shoes. As I started wearing an adult 6 at such an early age. I remember I wanted them so bad that they were all I talked about. Sometimes I wonder If he bought them for me just to shut me up. Either way I loved them and those will always be my favorite pair of Jordans because they remind me of my Dad who is deceased now. And how much he loved me. Plus they are just a very dope looking classic shoe.

  • DonP

    Very touching article man! As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think about my childhood. I remember my parents bought me the Military IV’s in kindergarten and then I had the Maroon VI’s(hope they release this year!) in 2nd grade. Then my feet began to grow and I was no longer in a kids size. I remember when MJ retired and I saw the IX’s in an Eastbay magazine(I know I wasn’t the only one who had them but didn’t order anything, lol) and I just had to have them! I remember asking my dad if I could have them and he said “show me all A’s on your report card and they’re yours!” I worked so hard in school and couldn’t wait to show my folks my report card…all A’s. When I came home from school there was a Foolocker bag sitting on the bed. Without showing my report card first, I went straight for the bag and when I opened the box I was the happiest kid ever! To this day, I still remember the smell. I was hurt when my feet grew and I couldn’t wear them anymore. OG IX’s will forever be my all time favorite shoe! Have a pair from 2010 and everytime I wear them it takes me back to that day when I came home from school!

  • 6ft4_dondon

    99 metallic 5s even though .was 4 going on 5 I still remember & love them shoes

  • BigFella_15

    My first love was the Air Jordan 15 white/university blue. They belonged to my big brother which he handed down to me to save my parents some money. Now many people believe that the 15 may just be one of the ugliest Jordan’s of all time, however I love them. You can never forget your first no matter how ugly!

  • Jaymee

    Ok I Am 15, And a soon to be 10th grader come August but, I Have Been Inlove With Sneakers Since I Was About 5 , WatchingMy Favorite Basketball Player LeBron James Throwdown Monster Tomahawks In The LeBron 2. My Mother Is Also A SERIOUS LBJ Fan So Whatever LBJ Shoe I Wanted . . I Got . Everyone Else At School Was Wearing Jordans Or Whatever I Was The ONLY Person Rocking LeBrons. Although THats A Good Sneaker Intro My First LOVE Was/ IS THe Air Jordan 7 Cardinals. The Summer Going To 7th Grade My Shoe Sized Jumped From A 9 To A 10.5 / 11 And Of Course, I Wanted A Pair of Buerdox 7s (Retail Was $170 i think) But My Mom , Who Was Unemployed At That Time Said She Wasnt Going TO Pay For That So I Ended Up Coping Some Polo Ralph Lauren Shoes(2) . I Thought Those SHoes Would Never Be Mine But I Didnt Give Up , I Begged My Uncle And He Gave In , Problem Was They Didnt Have The Buerdox 7 In My Size But They Had My Size In The Cardinal 7s . . .SWEEET Victory My Mom Became Aware Of My Love For Sneakers So Ever Since Then Ive Rocked Reebok,Nike,Jordan, and Adidas Superstars. Thank God For Opening Her Eyes .

  • nick

    charcoal 9 was my first love…my older cousin, had them when I was 8 years old, and I really love the look of them even though there was just all black and a hint of red..i didn’t even realize that they where jordans at the time. but all I knew was that I couldn’t stop looking at them. still don’t have them and im 24….STILL WAITING…

  • Andrew

    I’m only 17 so you can hate all you want… but my first love wasn’t an OG (I’m too young) my first love was he 2012 retro Bred 11’s. up until them all I ever got was one pair of generic Jordan’s for school and maybe a pair of cheap nike’s to mess around in. I started making my own money a few years ago and I decided I was gonna go for a retro. I waited 5 hours for those shoes. they could still pass as DS.

    • Afrikan Caesar

      If someone hates then let them hate. It’s always good to see a new sneakerhead join the culture. Stay posted to Sneaker Bar Detroit and spread the word

  • DaCollector

    Dope story. Growing up the youngest of 9 I typically got hand me downs from my 3 older brothers or the latest kicks at kohl’s, Sears or payless. My parents had too many kids for J’s. Reading this article gave me flashbacks about seeing all the kids in school with the latest J’s every other week. That use to drive me crazy!!! I wanted a job but I wasn’t even old enough to drive. But now I’m 29 with a full-time job, so once I finally had the opportunity to purchase J’s with my own money to splurge, I grabbed my first love (between 03′-05′) white on white Air Jordan 1s with the metallic wings chain link.