Players Weekend provides a great opportunity for Cubs superstar Kris Bryant to pay homage to the three cities he’s called home as well as to a friend who inspired his charitable efforts toward funding research projects to help find cures for spinal cord injuries.
A Las Vegas native who played collegiately in San Diego and is now a cornerstone in Chicago, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player will wear a pair of cleats depicting iconic imagery from those cities, one for each of the three games over the Cubs’ weekend series in Philadelphia.
Most importantly, the spikes will also promote Wings for Life Foundation, a non-for-profit dedicated to spinal cord research, a cause to which Bryant has dedicated himself to since 2011 when his friend, Cory Hahn, was injured and paralyzed while sliding into second base as a freshman at Arizona State.
Bryant selected three Chicago street artists to customize his Adidas cleats using the theme of “wings” for creative direction.
Artist Joseph Perez, aka Sentrock, created the look for the Las Vegas-inspired shoe he will wear in the first of the three games.
“I knew a lot about Kris beforehand, so I mostly researched the Wings for Life Foundation, which he supports and is really doing inspiring work,” Sentrock said. “My motivation was to highlight the idea that when Kris is playing, he is in his wings. When I’m creating art, I’m finding my wings.”
JC Rivera was the artist selected to depict San Diego, where Bryant became nationally known while starring for the University of San Diego.
Max Sansing, who collaborated on a mural of Bryant that can be found in the heart of Chicago’s Wrigleyville last summer, was commissioned to do the cleats depicting the Windy City during the final Players Weekend game on Sunday.
According to Wings for Life, millions of people are wheelchair dependent due to spinal cord injuries and every year at least 250,000 people sustain spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis, primarily caused by traffic accidents (50 percent) and falls (25 pct.), but with a significant percentage (nine pct.) from sports injuries.
The Wings for Life Foundation has funded 170 spinal cord research projects involving 500 scientists across 15 countries.
Bryant, a 25-year-old budding star who is batting .287 with 23 homers, 27 doubles and 56 RBIs this year, hosted the Players Trust’s annual poker and golf fund-raiser in Las Vegas this past winter.
As winner of the Players Choice Award as the NL’s Outstanding Rookie in 2015, Bryant donated his $20,000 grant to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Major Leaguers are #GoingToBat for causes near and dear to them, as they personify the Players Trust’s motto to ‘care, act and inspire.’ To learn more about the charitable interests and activities of Kris Bryant and other Major Leaguers, please click here.