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Shetellia Riley Irving, Kyrie Irving’s Agent, Recalls Advising Him Against Creating An Independent Shoe Brand After Departing From Nike

Shetellia Riley Irving, Kyrie Irving’s stepmom, is representing for Black women in sports management.

After transitioning from being the vice president of ad sales at BET, Irving became Kyrie’s agent in 2022. As previously shared by AFROTECH, the news, at the time, reportedly made her the only Black female agent representing an active NBA player.

Since becoming Kyrie’s agent, there have been numerous changes, including him being traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks, becoming a free agent, the antisemitism controversy, and getting dropped from his 11-year endorsement deal with Nike. 

In July 2023, Kyrie claimed that his signature sneaker line made the sportswear giant $2.6 billion in revenue over seven years, as previously shared by AFROTECH.

During that same month, he also inked a five-year endorsement deal with ANTA, a China-based sportswear brand, per Bleacher Report. Along with the shoe deal, he became the company’s chief creative officer.

During an interview on the “Earn Your Leisure” podcast, Irving recounted how Kyrie initially wanted to go independent after the end of his Nike endorsement, but she successfully advised him against it.

A key factor behind the decision was to avoid the risk of the shoe brand potentially not standing the test of time and keeping up with his basketball performance.

“Initially, we wanted to go independent,” Irving told hosts Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings. “And we had a lot of conversations [about] being a real independent shoe brand, and I sort of made the decision collectively with [Kyrie’s] dad that that probably wasn’t the best route because building a performance shoe on the court where his feet are [his] most valuable asset was something that we were just really worried about.”

Not only did Irving want to ensure the longevity of Kyrie’s NBA career and shoe brand, but also for him to secure ownership.

“We took the time to figure out what we really wanted in a shoe deal…It was creativity, price point, quality products and a host of other things,” she said. “When we started to have the conversations with ANTA and a few other companies, it was really about us creating our own contract because we didn’t want something that was really a traditional contract where it was like you just get royalties, base commission and then you walk away.”

She continued, “We wanted something that had a lot more ownership for us because we knew that once we put [Kyrie] in the lab, we knew what he was gonna create at the end of the day. We wanted something that gave us real equity.”

In addition to having equity, Irving wanted the contract to ensure that they were able to control the narrative.

During the “Earn Your Leisure” interview, she also shared that the ultimate plan is for Kyrie’s shoes to become a global household name in the future.

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