SALT LAKE CITY — Salvador Amezcua was chilling in Los Angeles a couple days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day when he received a surprise call from Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell.
“Yo, I need some MLK Day shoes,” Mitchell requested.
Even with the late demand, the West Coast artist/shoe designer widely identified as “Kickstradomis” made sure to look out for the rising star.
“Say no more,” Amezcua responded. “Let me see what I can do.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Kickstradomis immediately went to work on Mitchell’s Adidas Dame 4s, whipping them up as soon as possible.
He had to hurry to finish the size 16, MLK-themed sneakers to ship them off in time for Jazz versus Indiana Pacers matchup on Monday, Jan. 15, in which Mitchell dropped 23 points.
“I was able to finish his up in about three to four hours,” Kickstradomis said. “It was a big day.”
Amezcua, 31, is leaving a huge mark in the NBA sneaker community through his customizations with Mitchell and other league stars such as James Harden, Karl-Anthony Towns, Josh Hart, Jordan Bell, Kelly Oubre, Lauri Markkanen and many others. Everything is being done independently for now, but the Utah Jazz and other NBA teams are starting to set up collaborations for future projects as his name continues to blow up.
He first got connected with Mitchell after a Los Angeles Clippers game through is Louisville buddy, Montrezl Harrell.
The rest is history as he’s customized numerous models of Mitchell’s go-to Adidas Dame 4 sneakers.
Mitchell’s “Spida Man,” “I have a Dream” and “Louisville” editions have garnered rave reviews across the web. The slam dunk champion lists the red/white Louisville kicks to honor his school as his favorites where he paid homage to the now-vacated 2013 national championship team. The last name of each team member was sprinkled throughout the shoes with “2013 Champs” on the heels.
“I looked up to those guys so to be able to pay my respect to that team was huge and to be able to do what I can to put it out there for the world to see it was definitely big for me,” Mitchell said.
A typical custom order can take Amezcua anywhere from a few hours to a couple days, depending on the detailing, level of intricacy and materials. He has been creating art since he was 4 but didn’t start painting shoes until seven years ago, despite being color blind.
He has trained his mind to work through the deficiency and constantly sees his phone and social media accounts flooded with messages from guys wanting custom orders. Witnessing his artistic freedom being supported through these athletes is gratifying.
“I don’t want to be the culture. I want to change the culture,” Amezcua said. “That’s what I’m trying to do through my art is change the culture. These guys are great people and people just know them as basketball players but this is kind of where my art kicks in and I’m able to show what they’re really about.”
For Mitchell, being in the spotlight for his shoe choices is also new. He wasn’t much of a sneakerhead growing up in New York and Greenwich, Connecticut. Now his feet are all over the sneaker blogs on any given night.
“One, I couldn’t really afford them so it was like why even waste my time,” Mitchell said. “On my mind, I had other things to worry about like trying to play and do all that so I was never really into shoes. I just wore whatever I was given. “
As a sophomore at Louisville last season, he exclusively wore one pair of Damian Lillard shoes for all 34 games. Now he switches it up with different flavors at least every three to four games, and has a few surprises in store with Kickstradomis before the season ends.
A signature Adidas sneaker of his own somewhere down the line would be a surreal experience, but for now the customized sneakers are just fine.
“God willing. That would be the goal, but right now I can’t really think about that,” Mitchell said. “I just think about how to help my team win but that would be pretty cool.”