Eagles’ Rodney McLeod is hosting a Sneaker Ball expected to help more than 150,000 Philly kids
Rodney and Erika McLeod have done a lot of work in the Philly community over the past six years. Now they're using their passion for fashion to help kids in underserved neighborhoods.
The sports fashion scene has been dominated by basketball players with NBA pregame tunnel walks becoming mini fashion shows. The anticipation of appearances from Russell Westbrook, Kyle Kuzma, or P.J. Tucker create a pregame show feel every night.
But what about NFL players?
Eagles safety Rodney McLeod is one of the league’s fashion leaders, and he believes football players haven’t gotten their due. For example, the League Fits Instagram page has more than 756,000 followers and is mainly dedicated to showing off NBA fits with little attention given to NFL players.
“We don’t get a lot of recognition for our style and I don’t know if that’s because it’s a large number of us, where it’s hard for people to keep track,” McLeod said. “I think people are starting to catch on and see a change in the fact that NFL players are just as fashionable as the NBA players, if not more.”
McLeod is doing his part to bring attention to the NFL fashion scene while also magnifying charitable causes he has established with his wife, Erika.
The Art & Sole: Sneaker Ball Toy Drive will be hosted Dec. 6 by the McLeods’ Change Our Future Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering the youth through education, advocacy, and awareness. The fund-raising gala will feature a silent and live auction at the Arts Ballroom, 1324 Locust St. in Center City, with some of the finest sneakers available. Attendees will have a chance to bid on some of those sneakers, with proceeds going toward the foundation. Rodney McLeod said the event is expected to support more than 150,000 kids.
“It’s a way for everybody to come together and support our young people in a time where they need us the most,” he said. “It’s our time as adults to wrap our arms around them and show them what it means to put kids first and that’s what we stand for at Change Our Future.”
Neither Erika nor Rodney McLeod had an outfit picked out when interviewed two weeks before the event, but neither seemed too concerned.
One stroll down McLeod’s Instagram and you’ll see why. He displays versatile fits on what he hashtags as Wavy Wednesday — mixing in 1990s Nino Brown looks and Jidenna classic man vibes. In fact, McLeod’s fashion is what caught his wife’s attention in college.
And Erika McLeod is just as fashionable. She participated in fashion shows at their alma mater, Virginia, and is a native New Yorker. Rodney McLeod and his friends often attended those college fashion shows, and the McLeods have shared their love of fashion since then.
“Fashion isn’t just necessarily buying the most expensive things, but it’s how you pair and put things together that collectively make the perfect picture,” Erika McLeod said.
Rodney McLeod admits there is pressure as a fashionable couple who can’t be caught slipping because of their popularity.
“Anytime you step out the house, it’s an opportunity for someone to come across you in some form or fashion,” Rodney McLeod said. “I think we both take pride in that in something as simple as going to the mall.”
Now that they have been here for six years, the McLeods are fixtures in the Philadelphia community. They created programs and donated money to help the city progress in their six years here, including a $25,000 donation last year to the Philabundance food bank.
Mayor Jim Kenney and Councilmember Isaiah Thomas are among the guests invited to the Sneaker Ball, plus some Eagles and Phillies players. All attendees are asked to bring a nice pair of sneakers that will be donated to the local youth.
“It kind of takes you through that experience of retros to new school sneakers,” Erika McLeod said. “You get to show off, dressed up in your sneakers, and you get a shoe cam. We’re going to be bringing the fashion and style all together. We’re giving our guests a chance to learn a little bit more about what Change Our Future is doing in the community, ways they can support us, and what’s coming up for us.”
The McLeods gave an inside look at some of their favorite pieces and items that will be showcased at the Sneaker Ball.
One notable selection that will be on display is an exclusive Jack Daniel’s-themed pair of retro Jordan 4′s . Well-known sneaker customizer Dominic “The Shoe Surgeon” Ciambrone was behind the shoe . The McLeods also showed off the Ben & Jerry Nike Dunks and the Nike Off-White Lemonade Air Forces Ones that will be on auction.
“There’s also more in store,” Rodney McLeod said. “This is just a sneak preview.”
The plan is for the Sneaker Ball to become an annual event. While NBA players are in season, some of the city’s football and baseball players will be able to attend and show off their fashionable side. But more important, it’s a time to give back during the holiday season.
“I’m excited to see what people are going to pull out,” Rodney McLeod said, “what type of suits, dresses, and most importantly, what type of sneakers are going to hit the runway and be on the floor.”