A Size 17 Cinderella Story

basketball sneaker

March 13, 2023

In the tale of “Cinderella,” a prince goes looking for the girl whose foot perfectly fits the shoe. For 17-year-old Jeremy* at Family Promise of Beaverton, OR, it was all about finding the perfect shoe to fit his foot. 

When Jeremy and his family came to Family Promise, he had one pair of sneakers that were so worn out, he’d taped them together. But finding him a new pair of shoes was at the bottom of his family’s list of priorities: they had lost their home and were more concerned about where they’d spend the night. 

In addition to providing shelter and stabilization support to the family, Family Promise wanted to help Jeremy replace his old sneakers. The problem was, he wore a size 17 shoe, a difficult size to find. 

“We live in Nike-land,” said Lois O’Halloran, the Affiliate’s board chair, alluding to the fact that Beaverton is the home of Nike’s headquarters. “But even so, it’s impossible to find shoes in that size!” 

Nike is famous for its sneakers and supplies footwear to many professional athletes, including the NBA. Yet even within the NBA, where large feet aren’t uncommon, the average shoe size is only 13. 

But O’Halloran had a lightbulb moment. 

She knew that NBA players only wore their shoes for a few games before they were retired, though for the average person, the shoes would still be considered new. She reached out to the Nike division that works with the NBA – the Nike Jordan Team – wondering if they could find any players in the league who wore a size 17 shoe. The Nike Jordan Team shared Jeremy’s story with several NBA teams and eventually found a player who was happy to donate his shoes. 

O’Halloran delivered the box of shoes, which had the NBA player’s name on it, and considers that day a Family Promise highlight. 

“This family had so many barriers and tough knocks in life,” she said. “They were overwhelmed and surprised. It’s a moment that will live with me forever.” 

Editor’s note:  

Due to contract legalities between the NBA and Nike, the basketball team and player must remain anonymous in this story. As O’Halloran noted, the shoe donation was not an official NBA-Nike community event, but simply “good people doing good things” inspired by the work of Family Promise. 

*name changed to protect privacy 

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