Saturday, February 5, 2011

A "Shoe In" for good humanitarianism

So I know that my original intent was to provide more current stories of sports humanitarianism, but a couple of days ago, I remembered this story that I thought would make a perfect addition to Beyond the Boxscores.

At his best, Stephon Marbury was an two-time all-star point guard in the NBA. At his worst, he clashed with players and coaches, along with a few run-ins with the law. Stephon Marbury is not perfect. But despite his transgressions, one incredible act of humanitarianism by Marbury has left a lasting impression with thousands of underprivileged youths in the United States.

Marbury grew up in poverty in Coney Island, NY, one of seven children. Long on basketball talent, but short on money, Marbury's family couldn't afford to buy him the expensive shoes that were in such high demand at the time. Other kids and their families growing up in Brooklyn were faced with similar challenges when a $200 pair of basketball shoes represented a month's worth of groceries.

Despite the challenges Marbury faced, he became one of the most highly-recruited high school players in the country and received a scholarship to play at Georgia Tech. From there, Marbury went on to the NBA where he enjoyed a successful career. But despite all his successes on the hardcourt, Marbury had a burning desire to provide opportunities for underprivileged basketball-loving youths, as he once was. Enter the Starbury line of shoes (and eventually clothing, too). Marbury successfully developed an inexpensive, yet quality line of basketball shoes that provided young basketball players an opportunity to wear the footwear that they coveted so dearly. The cost: $14.98. The video below shows Marbury introducing his shoe line on Good Morning America.

The success of Marbury's shoe line was incredible. Not only were the shoes attractive, looking much like many $200+ pair of Nikes, but they were also remarkably well-built, constructed in China where Marbury first ensured that his products would not be associated with sweatshop speculation. The shoes flew off the shelves, reviews were strong, and to inner-city communities across the United States, Marbury was a hero. Stephon Marbury may have made his fair share of mistakes (a longer video is posted below, outlining his highs and lows as an athlete and a person), but as far as his humanitarian contributions go, he has truly gone Beyond the Boxscores.


  1. I cannot believe you just got me to respect Stephon Marbury. I'd heard about his shoes before, and as a player myself considered buying them. However, I never allowed my mind to think of him as a good person simply because I loathed him so deeply as a professional athlete. This post has me reconsidering that, and actually giving kudos to the self-anointed "Starbury". And kudos to you as well, as I believe that is the intent of your blog.

  2. My brother plays basketball, and has quite the shoe collection. I can honestly say, he has more shoes than me, and that's pretty sad. This blog however really stands out as there are so many young players who can't afford to buy expensive shoes. Stephon took a past experience that affected him but made him stronger to achieve his goals and passes that on through to others in the same position. It's people like this who give those with the talent but not necessarily the means to get where they need to go to succeed.