What I’m Grateful For: A Pair of All-Gold Sneakers From Kobe Bryant

And why bestselling author Jason Reynolds will never wear them.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

This article is part of Washingtonian‘s feature “Gratitude.” We asked dozens of notable Washingtonians as well as our readers: What are you most grateful for? Read some of their responses here.

Jason Reynolds

Bestselling author of YA fiction and the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who recently coauthored Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a history of racism for young adults

How do you like to express gratitude?

I really, really, really enjoy a good gushing. I’m the kind of person who likes to look you in the face, whether it be on Zoom or whether I stand six feet away, and just tell you how I feel. I think it’s important that we tell people we love them. I say it to kids all the time. Especially men, especially men, because men get so uncomfortable with it. Even if people are uncomfortable or stammer for a moment, they’ll usually return it.

What’s the most memorable thank-you gift anyone has given you?

Kobe Bryant sent me a pair of sneakers. This was a couple months before he died. He started a publishing company, he was trying to get me to work with him, and I didn’t have the time, but we stayed in touch. His daughter Gianna was a big fan. [The sneakers are] all gold. The Nike Air Max 1. All gold. The sole, the shoes, the laces, the toe box, the tongue. I’ve never worn them. I’ll never wear them.

Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.