Jonathan Isaac, an NBA player who may be best known for missing more than two seasons in a row as he rehabbed a knee injury, is putting a spotlight on his faith with his new signature shoe line.

The “JUDAH 1,” as the new shoe is called, is reportedly the first signature shoe from an athlete to feature Bible verses. Each of the shoe’s five colorways comes with a different verse printed on the heel.

The “Triumph,” which is the name for the blue version of the JUDAH 1 that launched Thursday, highlights 2 Corinthians 4:9 — “Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

In an interview with the Deseret News, Isaac, who is Christian, said the verse comforted him as he rehabbed his various injuries.

“I truly feel that God has not left me. I’m still kicking, still moving,” he said.

Related
Jonathan Isaac thanks God after making his long-awaited return to NBA action
Why a Taysom Hill jersey is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

He’s also still playing professional basketball as a forward for the Orlando Magic.

In the Magic’s most recent game, a win on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, Isaac came off the bench to play for 17 minutes and contributed four points and seven rebounds.

Isaac wore JUDAH 1s during the game, as he has throughout the season.

The “Triumph” version of the JUDAH 1 features 2 Corinthians 4:9. | Unitus

Unitus brand

Isaac’s signature shoes come from Unitus, his own sports and lifestyle brand.

The NBA player told the Deseret News that he launched the company because he felt legacy brands like Nike and Adidas did not fit his personal values.

“It is apparent to me and it’s growing more apparent to everyday consumers that a lot of companies are moving away from godly values and principles and constitutional values and principles,” Isaac said.

He added, “I wanted to create ... an alternative and give lovers of God, lovers of country the freedom to wear their values in a cool, stylish way.”

Isaac has been praised for this effort from a variety of prominent Republicans, including Lara Trump, former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination.

Isaac said he doesn’t mind if his comments about his new shoe or Unitus make him seem like a culture warrior.

“I guess I’ve become that. But I would say I’m comfortable,” he said. “What I’ve tried my best to do is allow my faith to lead.”

He’s also tried not to let the opinions of others influence his actions, which is part of how he became the only NBA player to stand during the national anthem after the league resumed play in the “bubble” after pausing the 2019-20 season during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And his faith helped him cope when he faced intense backlash in September 2021 after a Rolling Stone article claimed he was anti-vax. (Isaac later told reporters that he was “badly misrepresented” but confirmed that he thought people shouldn’t be “forced into” getting the COVID-19 vaccine.)

Those situations “helped produce calluses,” Isaac told the Deseret News. “I don’t care what others think or what they say. They can believe what they want to believe, and I’ll do the same.”

When it comes to gelling with his Magic teammates, Isaac said he feels like they try to respect his religious and political perspectives, just as he tries to respect theirs.

“I’m trying to be true to who I am and I’ve asked that of everyone I’m around,” he said.

Who is Jonathan Isaac?

Isaac, whose full name is Jonathan Judah Isaac, played high school in Florida and college basketball at Florida State before being drafted by the Orlando Magic with the sixth pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

He’s been with the team since then, although he’s missed most or all of several seasons due to injury.

Isaac has appeared in nine games so far this season. The Magic next play on Friday night against the Bulls.