P.J. Washington turned heads in the Wildcats’ January trip to Knoxville. He bruised for 13 hard-fought points, until cramps took him out of the game for good in the second half. The Twitter audience could not stop talking about Washington, and not because of his moves or his injury; because of his shoes.
Washington wore a pair of all-blue Jordan XI’s, a color you cannot buy on the shelves in a shoe that’s coveted by sneaker-heads everywhere. People asked, “Where can I get those?” There’s only one man who can do it.
Billy Hobbs is the owner and artist behind True Blue Customs. The Lexington native has customized many of the shoes you’ll see the Wildcats wear on the court, from Washington’s XIs, to Nick Richards’ Jamaican Vs and Quade’s Philly kicks.
What started as a side job turned into his life’s work in 2015. Willie Cauley-Stein’s passion for art met his basketball craft with shoe customization. The two collaborated for a few different pairs, but one pair of XI’s changed the game when Willie did this in the NCAA Tournament:
“He was really into art. He wanted to talk about anything but basketball. It was kind of his release from basketball,” Hobbs said. “He wore those that night. I went to bed. Woke up the next morning and had like 10,000 followers.”
Since then, Hobbs has made shoes that have been in the World Series, he’s hooked up No. 1 draft picks and he’s put a few pairs on Coach Cal’s feet.
You can see Hobbs’ entire operation in this seven-minute interview with J. Kyle Mann, who you might know better as the remixer of Kentucky Joe’s songs.