By Naeisha Rose
Former professional basketball player Anthony Mason, Jr. honored his father with a limited edition commemorative sneaker through his Falln Apparel clothing line with a shoe launch at Jimmy Jazz, a streetwear fashion store in Jamaica.
Anthony Mason, Sr. played 13 years in the NBA, including five seasons with the New York Knicks in the mid-’90s, and won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1995. He died of heart failure in 2015 at the age of 48.
Mason teamed up with Ewing Athletics, a footwear company owned by his father’s Knicks teammate, Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.
“I’m very excited about the collaboration because of the history of my father and Pat,” said Mason, who designed the shoe using the Ewing sneaker template.
Through his Family on Three Foundation, Mason further paid tribute to his father, who grew up in St. Albans, by setting up a make-shift basketball court in front of Jimmy Jazz, which is located at 89-45 165th St. His father’s iconic barber, Freddy Avila of Cutty’s Barbershop in Jamaica, was on hand to give out free haircuts as well.
“Family on Three is like when you put your hand in for basketball and say ‘one, two, three!’ so it’s about the togetherness,” Mason said.
Mason has declared that 100 percent of the profits from the $130 shoes will be donated to his foundation, which he also set up in his father’s memory, to support innercity youth.
“I’m very happy about the event because it’s right in the center of his community,” Mason said. “My father was about being a part of the community.”
Mason’s father attended Springfield Gardens High School, which dedicated a basketball court to the fallen all-star. Among the hundreds of people that gathered were recent students of the school who are a part of the foundation.
Jamal Tracey, a recent graduate who will be playing basketball at Medgar Evers College in the fall, was thrilled to be there.
“I went to Springfield, so it means a lot,” Tracey said. “He grew up around here, so I’m happy to celebrate him.”
Carl Damour, a current student would like to one day come close to the senior Mason’s legacy.
“He left a lot of historic titles for our school,” Damour said. “He was the first player in our school to go to the NBA, so that’s a dream of mine after I go to college.”
Mason Sr.’s community basketball coach was also in attendance.
“I use to coach him at St. Pascal’s, which is now a [Police Athletic League],” Greg Vance said. “During his junior year and his senior year in high school, he was a force to be reckoned with.”
When the elder Mason was in the NBA and after he retired, he would make sure that kids at Springfield Gardens High School had uniforms and sneakers, according to Vance.
Vance is proud of the way that Mason, Jr. is keeping his father’s memory alive.
“He would be proud to see what Anthony is doing with the Family on Three Foundation,” Vance said.
Family on Three will use the money to keep providing free basketball clinics to youths. The younger Mason will also go across the country to give motivational speeches to help inspire youngsters to overcome adversity.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose