The First Woman to Sign to the Jordan Brand is this Paralympic Athlete

Michael Jordan, an NBA legend, founded Nike’s Jordan brand. In 1984, he secured a contract with Nike, which would eventually give birth to Air Jordan. Prior to signing a partnership with Nike, the company trailed behind prominent brands such as Adidas, Reebok, and Converse.

At the time, Adidas was 50% larger in terms of revenue, while Reebok outperformed Nike in the market. According to Forbes, Converse was the preferred brand of NBA stars such as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, as well as emerging talents like Julius Erving.

Jordan wore Converse while at the University of North Carolina and was expected to sign with Adidas when he was first picked by the Bulls. However, his agent, David Falk, urged him to join Nike due of his close ties with the company.

Jordan informed them he was not interested. Falk then turned to his mother, Deloris, to persuade the then-21-year-old to join Nike.

“My mother said, ‘You’re going to go listen, you may not like it, but you’re going to go listen,’” Jordan recalled. His father, on the other hand, reportedly told him he would have to be a fool not to take the offer. And he took it.

Nike eventually dominated the sneaker industry, accounting for at least 80% of the market. Since the 1990s, it has signed talents like as the late Kobe Bryant, Zion Williamson, and Luka Doncic.

April Holmes was the first female athlete to sign with the Jordan brand in 2008. The four-time Paralympic competitor inspired the 2009 Air Jordan signature sneaker, which featured APT technology. During a 2008 interview with NPR, she discussed the significance of her collaboration with Jordan Brand.

“They provide me with so much more than just shoes and things. They have an entire family atmosphere at the Jordon brand. I’m the first woman of the Jordan brand. And they’ve been very helpful and instrumental and supportive in things that I’ve been able to do in terms of going out and giving away shoes, donating shoes, and donating equipment to other people,” she said.

Growing up in the Philadelphia area, Holmes never thought she would become an athlete or a world champion. After graduating from Norfolk State University with a degree in mass communications, she wanted to be a television producer but ended up working as an engineering assistant at Verizon while exploring other career shifts. However, a tragic train crash led to the amputation of one of her legs in 2001. While in the hospital, she got to know about the Paralympic games.

“I had spent a few weeks kind of confused about who I was and what I was, and if I was even valuable anymore to my family, society, and things of that nature. Just going from being an able-bodied person to someone with a disability within a matter of minutes is very difficult,” she told Black Enterprise.

“One of the first questions I asked my cousin after learning my leg was amputated was if I was going to be able to run or play basketball again. Even though I wasn’t doing those things anymore, I still enjoyed [its] freedom.”

According to her, her doctor informed her about the Paralympics and offered her several publications. Despite having not run in six years, she quickly regained a desire to do so. She began training and beating people, which motivated her to make a career change.

“So I started back up and once I got out there I knew I would be good I just didn’t know how quickly I could get to that place. Once I started training and beating people I was like ‘Wait, maybe I can really do this.’ It was like my ticket out of the job that I really did not like. Being out there and being successful I was able to attract the attention of the Jordan brand and they were the first major sponsor that I signed with,” said the Paralympian, author, and motivational speaker.

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