If you know SLAM, then you should know my story, but I want to really get into the journey I’ve been on…
I’ve always tried to do things a different way, and I’ve never been afraid of taking a risk.
That meant going to Oak Hill, when I was already the #1 player in the country, cause I wanted to run at 6 AM every day. Learn from the best High School coach of all time, Steve Smith. I wanted to play the best schedule in the country. I wanted to break Melo’s scoring record. I wanted to put my skills on display, every night, and see if my love for the game, and that $30 orange ball, could get me millions. (And I did all that.)
When I skipped college and went pro in Rome, I took an even bigger risk. I signed a shoe deal with a football brand that had never even launched a basketball shoe, and I took pride in that shit. I trusted Kris Stone and Kevin Plank and the vision we all had. I knew we all had that same dog mindset to get after it.
I’m the OG at Under Armour, had their 1st ever signature shoe, and to this day I’m proud of that decision. The way I looked at making big decisions, I was always willing to take a risk, but confident about what I bring to the table. I was open minded, but knew how much work would have to go into building things from scratch. I always knew what I signed up for. And I was hyper aggressive and wanted to create some real energy.
That type of mindset was also exactly how Kevin Plank built the whole brand from his grandma’s basement.
I always had that same entrepreneurial spirit, and you can probably see that now too, ever since I launched my own brand — Tuff Crowd.
And now, it’s all coming full circle.
My Draft classmate, who I call Thirty, took a chance on UA a handful of years after me too.
When Stephen Curry first signed on with Under Armour, he hadn’t even made an All-Star Game yet. (He started the very next one.) His team hadn’t won a ring in like 40 years. (He won his first of four titles the year after that.) He got a signature shoe too, and now he’s on his 11th. (He won MVP in the 1, then again in the 2s.)
So it’s only right that the two guys that laid the foundation of Under Armour Basketball are coming together now for a full collaboration collection.
When I first launched Tuff Crowd in 2019, it was built on a simple idea. Life is a Tuff Crowd, and things don’t always go according to plan. That’s what I started to really figure out when I was by myself and playing in China that year. Stuff gets thrown your way that you didn’t think you’d ever have to deal with, but you gotta power through.
That’s where the idea of my “Hostile Territory” tagline comes from. You gotta have that dog mindset to get past the struggles, and trust me, when you have that belief that things will work out, there’s no better feeling than being on the other side.
I’ve been through it all. I tore my Achilles and my entire life changed. Changed the whole course of where I thought my career was headed. I was on a run right before that and playing my best hoop ever. But that’s life.
Friends and fam issues came up that you couldn’t imagine. Situations where I had to fight through, that made me stronger. I spent a lot of time by myself when I was playing in China and Russia, where I could really reflect. And I have perspective, appreciation, and belief cause of all of it. I’m at peace with the path I’ve lived.
All of that goes into Tuff Crowd.
People might not know this, but during the NBA lockout in 2011, I actually interned at Under Armour for that whole summer in Baltimore. Kevin Plank loaned me his black Jeep to drive around. Had a whole office with my job title on it — “Curator of Cool.”
Being in there every day, with Kris Stone, Ron Johnson and Ryan Drew, was everything. Being able to see how things work as a company, and learning about materials, fabrics, designs, comfort and different styles, it helped me get more detailed about how I wanted my product to be.
That whole internship helped me a lot. Waking up every day, going to the office and working on projects that had to be delivered by a certain time and required an attention to detail — it was my foundation of understanding how brands and business works.
When it comes to style, I always felt like I had an eye for stuff that was effortless, but bold. Drewsy at UA used to always joke that he could drop me off at a Goodwill for 10 minutes, give me $20 bucks to cop a whole outfit, and I’d come out fresh.
I always just had that feel. That sauce.
I’d be on LeagueFits every day if it was around back then.
Since I’ve been working on my brand for the last couple years, we’ve had a ton of highlights for sure. Getting featured in NBA 2K has been killer. Doing an official collab with the Bucks was crazy.
And I gotta give a shout out and special thanks to Jordan Clarkson. He really believed since day one that Tuff Crowd would take off, and he rocked the whole fit when he won 6th Man of the Year. You have no idea how much that support has meant to me.
Seeing players rock Tuff Crowd at championship parades, in the tunnel and at All-Star events ever since has been amazing.
But this, I’m telling you, is the dopest thing I ever worked on.
You already know Steph is locked in for life at UA, and with Curry Brand, he’s looking to really build up the style and designs of what he’s putting out.
That’s why we teamed up.
Tuff Crowd and Curry Brand — but not just a shoe, or a couple pieces. A whole collection. We’ve got three shoes off top, and almost 20 pieces of gear and accessories. And the story behind it is great.
The idea of 11:11 is big for me.
The bones design on the collection come straight from my neck tattoo, and it’s a spiritual reminder for me.
It speaks to understanding who you are, what your purpose is, and alignment with your path and what God has in store for you. When you think about it, there’s no better representation of that than Stephen.
He’s a good dude at his core, he’s locked in on what matters most, and he wants to really, genuinely, help people out. No matter if you’re from Charlotte, Oakland, or anywhere else in between, he has a whole team around him that’s there to get things moving and make a difference. I’ve seen that firsthand.
Steph has been rocking with Tuff Crowd since the start. It’s funny, cause earlier this summer, I was randomly looking up some of our original orders from TuffCrowd.com, and sure enough, Steph had bought one of the first beanies that we dropped years ago. He rocks the collar stitch tees. The dad hats. The dog hoodies too.
And of course, that fire ass black and red chain stitch jacket that I made him after he broke the 3-Point record, with 2974 on the wrist, and patches repping his kids on the sleeve.
But this is different. We’ve got some Curry 11s that have black Flow tech for the first time ever for Curry Brand. The Cozy we did is so fire and clean. We got a hoody that I think is the best clothing item that Curry Brand has ever made. We got tees, socks, shorts, hats and a tote bag that is my go-to, day to day joint.
I wanted to bring an edge to this collection and show another side of Stephen, that people haven’t seen. There’s a mood the whole way through. People think Steph is just a nice guy, but trust me, he’s hostile out there on the court, with how competitive he is. He attacks everything he does in life with intent and purpose, and I wanted to celebrate that part of his game and his mentality through the designs.
It’s about the details. The story. And the idea that two of UA’s most impactful dudes early on can come together again and put out some real heat that you’ll actually want to rock. To dinner. In the tunnel. On the court. With your fam. Wherever.
I’m big on the idea of ownership. Of running your own thing. Putting your name, your imprint and your stamp on something that you can stand behind and be proud of. That’s what Steph is doing now as President of Curry Brand, what I’m building with Tuff Crowd, and really the roots of how Under Armour took off.
When my guy launched his own damn Curry Brand at the end of 2020 (which is killer…read that sentence again!!), one of the first things he told everyone at UA was something like, ‘Look, this isn’t even about me, we have a real opportunity here to impact the next generation.’
They came up with a tagline for Curry Brand to describe the idea: “Change The Game For Good”
Ever since, I’ve been able to see that impact up close.
I’ve been at Curry Camp the last two summers now, where Stephen is walking the top next up dudes and women through every drill, every detail and giving them some real talk about how you need to think the game at that highest level. All these boys and girls are the best at what they do — right now — but that doesn’t guarantee nothin when the lights come on, on the biggest stage, a few years from now.
We know Steph’s story. He laughed and told all the Camp players, that when he was their age, he wouldn’t have even been invited to his own camp. That should say a lot right there. There’s work, detail and intent that you gotta pour in, to get to where we’ve gotten.
The week after his camp last year, I pulled up to a middle school in Long Beach, where him and Snoop Dogg had re-done the entire gymnasium for the LBC community.
Man, you shoulda seen the smile on these kids’ faces. I can’t even begin to tell you how much hope that provides to all the youngins coming up, to get to see STEPH CURRY right up close, and know that he cares about them and wants to help them out.
Look — the shoes and the clothes we’re dropping are hard as hell. Like, really some of the hardest stuff I’ve ever dropped since I even started Tuff Crowd.
But Steph’s line that he uses — “Change The Game For Good” — is real.
That’s what makes this next sentence so amazing.
As part of our 11:11 collection launch this week on Saturday, we’re actually taking it back to my hometown gym in LA, where I literally picked up a ball at 5 years old and learned how to hoop. Where our kids league director JK made sure we had a safe place to play. I got the trophy to prove it.
I’m talking Rowley Park.
Back in 2011, one of the first givebacks I did with UA was donate a new outdoor court at the park. The street signs say Brandon Jennings Way and Under Armour Way. And for the whole last decade it became a spot where kids from the neighborhood could escape and just play. Just have fun. Just be kids.
This time around, I wanted to do even more.
That inside gym in Gardena, California ain’t seen any love since I was there in elementary school. It was the same hard court I dribbled on as a kid. The same walls and everything.
And we’re about to upgrade and overhaul the whole thing.
A whole new Rowley Park, that’s gonna last for years to come.
It’s gonna have “TUFF CROWD” on the baselines. My dog logo at the center court. The Curry splash logo with the barbwire in the key. And on the sidelines, it says “Change The Game For Good.”
11:11 is all about timing. All about balance. All about alignment, and things working out for you when your energy is right.
The “011” on the hardwood means it’s the 11th court that Curry Brand has helped to re-do and upgrade since 2020. That’s timing right there.
We’re gonna kick the gym re-opening off with a basketball camp for kids. And then let my hometown get a first crack at copping the whole Tuff Crowd x Curry Brand collection. It’s gonna be one of the proudest days ever.
All of this is as full circle as it gets for me. I’m hoping it shows the power of what players can provide for the communities that built them and supported them on their journey to somewhere as amazing as the Association. And how you can continue to find new passions in life, like being a clothing designer, or even a co-host on a basketball show.
It also shows how impact isn’t just about launching some fresh black and red shoes and some hard clothes — it’s also about leaving something real for the kids coming up next.
The kids from Compton and Gardena that need to know they can find their path in life. They can power through any situation they’re faced with. They can channel that Tuff Crowd mindset and keep going.