The Story Behind Chris Paul’s HBCU-themed Custom Sneakers

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The NBA Bubble has given us a multitude of storylines since the first set of games tipped off. Intense match-ups, memorable performances, sneaker debuts, and social justice-driven initiatives have emerged on the hardwood in an unprecedented fashion.

Though no storyline supersedes another, one of the most encompassing moments of the bubble came thanks to Chris Paul and his Jordan CP3.XII. Not only did CP3 lead the Oklahoma City Thunder in a valiant effort in the playoffs, but the future Hall of Famer also took his platform and sneakers and dedicated it to raising awareness to the Black community in more ways than one.

CP3 and Roland Padron teamed up for a handful of custom CP3.XIIs dedicated to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and Breonna Taylor lead by his Can’t Give Up Now mantra.

We caught up with Padron, known best as Nomad Customs, about the creative process behind the HBCU Sneaker Tour. Learn about his story and the process that went into the custom collection below. Be sure to follow Nomad on Instagram for more custom creations.

Nomad’s Customizing Journey

Nice Kicks: How did your customizing journey begin?
Nomad: I began customizing my own sneakers, specifically Nikes and Jordans, in high school. I would use shoe paint and sharpies to change up the color of the Jumpman, swoosh or color block any part of the shoe I wanted. I didn’t begin customizing shoes as a business until 2013. I think a lot of great ideas happen when you least expect it, especially when you hit rock bottom. At the time, my wife and I had just gotten married and a few months after the wedding I lost my job as a Property Manager, a position I was working in for over 15 years.  We were left with no choice but to move in with my in-laws. We have 5 beautiful children and thankfully we had the support of our family through that very difficult time.
I began caddying at a private golf course in Miami Beach, Florida. At that moment I had hit rock bottom. I felt like I had failed myself and my family. I had the idea of customizing shoes again, but not just for myself but possibly as a side business. I spoke to my wife about it and she encouraged me to do it and give it my all. That was when Nomad Customs began. 2013 is a year that I will never forget.
I love the sneaker culture and sports as a whole, so my goal with Nomad Customs was to add my spin, my vision to already amazing shoes. Seeing my art on professional athletes’ shoes, whether it’s on the court, on the field, or on a golf course, gives me life and keeps me hungry for more. 

Working with Chris Paul

Chris Paul in the CP3.XII “Livingstone College” (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nice Kicks: How did you and Chris Paul start working together?
Nomad: Chris Paul’s brother, CJ, reached out to me years ago through IG to create some custom sneakers and golf shoes for him.  He asked me to create some custom sneakers for Chris Paul when he was playing with the Clippers and as well as custom golf shoes. Throughout these years, we have kept in touch and when Chris Paul had the idea of representing HBCUs during the NBA season, they reached out to me and we collaborated on this amazing project. Chris Paul called me directly to discuss his vision to shine a light on HBCUs through his sneakers.

Selecting the HBCUs for the Sneaker Tour

Chris Paul in the Jordan CP3.XII “Langston University (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nice Kicks: He’s repped a ton of HBCUs in the bubble. What was the process for selecting the schools?
Nomad: Chris Paul and his team selected the schools and sent me all of the shoes. They gave me creative freedom to design these customs. I wanted to make sure each HBCUs custom was clean, bold, and visible to the audience while Chris Paul was playing. I wanted to shine a light on each of these schools, and I was able to make their vision come to life. 
Chris Paul in the Jordan CP3.XII “Howard University” (Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)

Project Turnaround

Nice Kicks: Obviously getting things into the bubble had some restrictions. What was the turn around time for this entire project?
Nomad: This entire project took about two and a half weeks from receiving the shoes to shipping them out. Customizing these shoes took 12 days and a few all-nighters to get them to CP before playing in the bubble. Since each pair was representing a different school, I did them one by one, no bulk customization here. 

HBCU Sneaker Tour Recognition

Nice Kicks: What’s it been like seeing your work not only on the hardwood but throughout social media?
Nomad: It is honestly an indescribable feeling. I am absolutely humbled by it and most of the time it’s surreal, but it keeps me wanting to create more. It drives me to keep reaching further. 

The Importance of the HBCU Sneaker Tour

Chris Paul in the Jordan CP3.XII “Albany State University”(Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nice Kicks: Finally, how important is it for you to be a part of this storytelling process, especially during these times?
Nomad: This is a historical time in our country, and being a part of BLM through the use of my art is simply amazing. Chris Paul is a class act. He used his name and platform to make a bold statement and bring awareness to HBCUs. From his pre-game look, repping the school, to his on-court sneaker customs. Being a part of the HBCU Sneaker Tour was part of NBA history. 
We are living in difficult times, where most things we read and see are negative. I truly hope this gives even one person hope to look deep within and contribute their talents and gifts to the world. We all have it in us.

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