East Anchorage High School boys basketball team gifted shoes from Puma

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 9:46 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Players on the Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School boys basketball team got a surprise gift as the cherry on top of an undefeated season, in the form of sneakers from Puma.

The footwear company gifted each player and coach with a pair of black sneakers after the team drew attention for wearing warmup shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” written down the back all season.

According to Anchorage School District Director of Communications & Community Outreach Alan Brown, after winning the Cook Inlet Conference tournament, the school was informed of a parent concern that specifically questioned whether or not the shirts were paid for with district funds.

While administrators looked into the parent concern, they asked the team to hold off wearing the shirts while the district conducted a review. After looking into the situation, the district learned that the Bettye Davis East High School Booster Club purchased the shirts for everyone on the team, Brown said.

District leadership quickly determined that the shirts did not violate any district or Alaska School Activities Association policies, nor have they created any disruption during the season.

The entire process took about a day, and the district notified the school immediately of the decision to allow the team to continue wearing the shirts as they had done for every game this season. The team didn’t play any games during the review process, according to Brown.

While the review process was taking place, team member Damarion Delaney took to Twitter to have his voice heard on the issue. The tweet caught the attention of David Bullock, an Alaska native currently living in Los Angeles and the CEO of 907 Agency. Bullock then reached out to Puma who wanted to show their support in the form of getting a pair of black shoes for everyone on the team, Brown said.

Bullock delivered the shoes himself right before the Thunderbirds went to play in the 4A state championship game that they would go on to win, completing their undefeated season.

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