Published on November 26th, 2018 | by Landon Buford0
Travis Singleton Shares How He Turned His Passion For Sneakers, Into His Dream Job
Travis Singleton was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but he was raised in Dorchester. He is the Founder of SneakerReporter.com. The platform focuses on giving the latest news on sports, lifestyle, and sneakers from a different perspective. Over the last eight years, Singleton has interviewed numerous athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Paul George, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook to name a few. He is currently a credentialed media member for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Coming from humble beginnings, Singleton knows the value of hard work. It wasn’t until he landed his first job at Walgreens, that he was able to consistently purchase all the sneakers that he missed growing up in the inner-city of Boston. He has always been a fan of the Nike Brand ever since he was a kid, he and his friends were aware of the release dates of all the Jordan’s. Other kicks that they would rock around town where, LeBron’s, and Air Force ones.
Singletons hard work and dedication have given him opportunities to be featured in NBA 2k, and to donate sneakers through “Kicks for Grades.“ A program he started back in 2013, focused on giving away free sneakers to children in the community in exchange for kids making the honor roll in school. He is committed to helping kids achieve academic excellence.
Singleton wants his audience to know that his platform does not just talk about sneakers. Sneakers is a hobby and interviewing players in the locker is a job. It is something that he is passionate about, and he takes it seriously. He is authentic when it comes to his craft. He has built his company from the ground up without any backing from any major companies.
“Sometimes if you believe in yourself nothing can hold you back, “says Singleton.
Singleton’s objective is to have a sneaker reporter covering all 30 teams in the NBA, and possibly collaborate with Nike one day. He has six reporters on his staff currently and is looking to build from there.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Singleton about where he drew his inspiration to start his platform “SneakerReporter.com. “He also discussed some of the things that are on the horizon for his company moving forward, heading into All-Star Weekend in Charlotte this year.
When did you start becoming intrigued with sneakers?
Sneakers have always been a part of the Boston culture. Growing up in Boston you wanted to have the best shoes, flyest kicks, and that was just something that I was born into in Boston Massachusetts, and raised in Dorchester. My mom and dad, they both played basketball, and always had sneakers around the house. So, it was a part of my culture in Boston. I grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts and it is outside of Boston it is the inner-city of Boston. Collecting all the flyest kicks was part of the culture, but it was something I couldn’t participate in at first. Until I was able to get my first job at Walgreens and then after that, I turned my Swag on, and I was finally able to participate in the culture. I always loved sneakers, but I was not able to afford them.
My mom would always say we can to get you one pair of Air Force ones per season. So, I would get four pairs of kicks a year. So, once I was able to get the job at Walgreens, I was able to purchase all the shoes that I missed out on, and I just became the sneaker guy in our community. Everyone would come up to me and ask about releases in high school. I went from no one wanting to talk to me, to the go to for information. It is just a humbling experience being able to be a part of the sneaker culture. I want to shout out some my people at Cathedral High School because they are the ones that introduced me to the culture.
Were you a fan of New Balance since they are based in Boston?
I never was into New Balance I did have a couple of pairs because they were comfortable. I have always been a fan of Nike and the Jordan Brand. Growing up Jordan Retros used to come out on Wednesday, but it became so hectic because you had to skip school to buy them. After it became a big problem, they started releasing them on Saturday because kids were ditching and missing school to buy Jordan’s. New Balance is cool, and Reebok is also based in the area down the street from me in Canton. I was also a fan because Allen Iverson endorsed the brand. In the inner-city, it was about the Jordan’s, Air Force Ones, and LeBron’s, but I wouldn’t turn any New Balance down if they came my way.
When did you get your first custom and what was the design?
” True Blue Customs” created the first custom shoes that I got done. That was this past All-Star Weekend; I had the Nike PG-1 Nerf made after the Nerf gun, which was a great experience talking with the creators. I wanted some customs beforehand, but just never had the chance to do it. I did dabble with a Nerf LeBron IV back in 2007, that I tired, to work on as well, but I’m not a big custom person. Now, if you are asking about Nike IDs, I custom them two times a week.
Is there a company that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Nike! I have been discussing something with them about a possible collaboration with me and Paul George, now that he is playing with the Thunder. They always laugh about it, but that would be a tremendous opportunity because it has always been a dream of mine. To be able to collaborate with an athlete, especially with one of my favorite players Paul, George, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and even LeBron. I love Nike they brought me out to the campus, and that was a humbling experience. For a kid growing up and admiring the company, it was a dream come true.
How were you able to turn your love for sneakers into covering NBA teams?
A lot of people would laugh at me in the beginning and asked what I was doing, but I’m a sneakerhead. I would always take pictures of sneakers on the court because that is my love. They used to laugh, but would then start to catch on the wave slowly, and I wanted to stick out as a reporter. I can do the suit and tie look or want to be known for my passion and be in my own space. That is where the Sneaker Reporter came from; I’m able to wear casual clothing and still wear sneakers to express myself. I think sneakers are a great way to showcase yourself as a person and your creativity. It also, expresses moods, moments, and people are starting to catch on. I ask questions about sneakers pre-game, but I still have a job to do post-game by asking the questions people might not be willing to ask. I am a relatable person to players in the locker room, and I have been interviewing players in the locker room since 2010. I feel that I am a household name now as it took a while and you must remember success doesn’t come overnight. It takes prayer, hard work, and dedication.
When I posted something, I would only receive five likes, but over time it began to grow. I also had a support system from my family, and they continued to encourage me to keep going. When I had the opportunity to cover OKC and came up with KD and Russ, it was like a match. It took my brand to another level, and when I arrived in OKC, I only had 8k followers, and now I’m closing in on 90k followers on Instagram. It is a blessing to know people believe in my vision and being able to bring the culture of the inner-city into NBA locker rooms with class. I don’t feel anyone is doing it the way I am without being genuine. A lot of people will wear specific sneakers, but they are not familiar with the stories behind them. I want to able to give back to my people, whether it’s through social media encouragement or going into the communities and talking to the people. That is what makes me stand out.
You stated that you started in Boston. How were you able to land the position with the Thunder?
For me it was just one of those situations where I felt every time, they visited Boston, the players supported what I was doing. I took a leap of faith regarding networking with the team, and Andre Roberson was a big reason why I was able to get the opportunity with the Thunder. He was the first player from the Thunder that sat down for an interview with me. It was a 30-minute interview we touched on everything from sneakers to other things Andre wanted to do during his career. I also want to shout out Duke assistant head coach Nolan Smith he is also someone that believed in me, and I do not think I would be in the position I am in now if it wasn’t for his encouragement. I reached out to the organization, and the Thunder gave me a chance at a young age from Boston when I was trying to get my foot in the door. To a man in Oklahoma, who knows the direction he wants to take his company in moving forward.
You had the opportunity to travel to all the areas in the NBA year after year. How do you feel the rest of the league treats the culture?
I think the NBA is getting in tune with the culture. I also think the NBA is becoming more diverse and at the end of the day, I think the NBA is a player’s league. So, if the players are supporting an issue, the league and Adam Silver will follow. The owners such as Mark Cuban want to make these locker rooms more diverse because there is a lot of talent all over the world. I think that there are more companies open to giving more opportunities around the world. Especially, with individual companies and I am thankful that they allow me to do what I love on a nightly basis.
How did the opportunity to be featured in NBA 2K present itself?
It was one of those situations that one of the directors from the company was precisely following me and I did not know. Every year I would post my bucket list: I want to cover a team that has an MVP (Russell Westbrook was an MVP), and next, I want to be in NBA 2K every year I would post this same list. One day the director reached out and said I’m going to put you in contact with Ronnie and make it happen. He said that I had been putting in the work and you have a huge following, and you’re genuine. People really care about you and shout-outs to Alex because a lot of people look at me as a role model.
I must make sure the kids are looking up to the things that I’m doing, and make sure I’m doing right by them. It is a tremendous honor and blessing to be featured in the game. Ronnie reached out, and we were able to make it happen, I have been featured in the game for the last two years. It has been a humbling experience and a dream come true for me. Being in the game is not all about me, it’s about all the people I represent where I came from and supported over the years.
There are a lot of companies that offer internships, but they do not always land the participate in permanent positions with the brand. You are a business owner what advice would you give someone that believes that the job might not lead to anything that can pay the bills?
When you are talking business with people even if it is an internship, you want to let them know there is an opportunity for growth. Growth is critical in an internship opportunity, so whenever I bring people in, I try to emphasize that to them. You are a part of my brand, and you are growing with me, and you are elevating to that next level with me. If you are gaining the experience it more than the money and that is what I try to preach to the people that come along. The knowledge you gain is an opportunity to build up your resume so that you can bring to these companies. Being an independent company, you do a lot of things on your own, but you must take chances on people as someone did for you.
What would be your dream interview?
If I had to pick only one, it would be Allen Iverson because he meant so much to me growing up. He is the reason why I had cornrows, the elbow pads, and the Reebok on. Iverson was someone that I could relate to because of all the struggles he went through coming from the inner-city. He is someone that I look at as a role model, he has made some bad decisions, but he also made some decisions that have out-shined the negativity. When I look at everything, he has been able to do during his career, being a father and still be someone that encourages and motivates people. I look at Allen Iverson as a mogul like a Jay-Z in the NBA. He has his clothing line, jewelry, du-rags, and they had to change the dress code because of him.
Who outside of the NBA would you like to interview?
I want to talk about sneakers with Wale and Mark Wahlberg because they are both sneakerheads. I would so love to speak with Jay-Z because he is with Puma now to see what the vision would be like moving forward at the company. Finally, I would like to talk to Michael Jordan to discuss everything that went into each edition of the shoe.
What events will you be a part of that you can talk about right now?
I have stuff happening All-Star Weekend, as far as my podcast “A Day in Our Kicks with Travis & Langston. “I will be working with Footlocker again for All-Star Weekend, and I will be debuting my own clothing line shortly (Sneaker Reporter clothing line). I will be setting up pop-up shops for All-Star Weekend.
What was your reaction when you were able to bring your mom to that first game?
It was humbling! I love that lady to death all the things she has done for me. I get teary-eyed just talking about it. I just wanted to let her know I’m doing the right thing. There are so many parents, who send their kids to college and don’t know what to expect. I wanted to give my mom you know that everything would be good because of all the sacrifices she has made for me. I wanted her to enjoy her time when she came to OKC. I’m also working on trying to take my sister Everlee to a Thunder’s game this season as well. That would bring joy to her and I would like Everlee to experience her first NBA Game.Tweet