A Walk In His Shoes: Langston Galloway on Giving Back, Perseverance and the Sweetest Kicks In the NBA
Some might call Phoenix Suns guard Langston Galloway a Cinderella tale, sport’s favorite kind of story. But Langston Galloway is not a fairy tale. A fairy tale does not put into perspective just how much hard work went into making Langston the man and athlete he is today.
This is a story of perseverance.
To understand Langston Galloway though, you have to first know his journey.
The 29-year-old Galloway is a true 90’s kid. Space Jam is his ultimate go-to flick, Madden, NBA2K and NCAA Football his video games of choice. More than a 90’s kid though, Galloway is Larry and Jerilyn’s son. Galloway gives them credit for his perspective on life.
While his father worked a 30-year career at Exxon, he and Langston’s mother made it a priority to give back to their community as much as possible, making a profound impact on their son.
“My dad, my mom, they definitely instilled that in me…just the core philosophy of giving back and being able to be a part of the community that you’re a part of,” Galloway recalled for UNRIVALED. “I watched my dad and how he moved and how he was able to be so specific in the community.”
At eight years old, Galloway spearheaded a shoe drive. They were expecting a decent number of donations, but nothing astronomical. The Galloway’s were going to collect their few donations and give them to kids in the community.
They raised around 15,000 pairs, meeting their goal with enough left to create a refurbished outdoor track.
“That kinda got me started. From then on, when I got to college and got into the pro ranks, it just kind of kept building.”
As Galloway has become a fixture in the NBA family, he’s developed the Langston Galloway Foundation to also remain a part of the outside community. The foundation began simply. Galloway and his wife Sabrina wanted to be more intentional with their community work. Going strong since 2018, basketball is the nucleus of the outreach, but the foundation also offers mental health wellness and mentorships.
“We were like, ‘hey, if we can make a difference in so many student athletes like ourselves, be able to teach them about health, wellbeing, mental wellness, I think that that’d be something that would go a long way.’”
The basketball camps are free to everyone attending and has allowed Galloway the opportunity to engage with athletes from childhood to college. As his camps continue to grow, one thing remains the same; everything is rooted in community.
“Our biggest thing was, being passionate about what you love and just being able to nurture the kids in the community…we’re getting to the point now where we’re trying to figure out, how do we add more and more initiative based events for the community.”
Each month, the NBA names a player who, “best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities.” Due to his work with the Langston Galloway Foundation, Galloway was named the February 2020 NBA Cares Award winner.
“It was definitely a shock because we didn’t see it coming,” admits Galloway. “It meant the world because it’s not just me…it’s for myself, Sabrina, for so many people that have helped us along the way. So many volunteers that we’ve had, our family, our friends, like everybody’s chipped in to, to be a part of this award.”
So much of who Langston Galloway has become is tethered back to his role as both a basketball player and community leader. Those two facets shape nearly every other aspect of his life.
The Phoenix Suns guard was able to recently earn his personal trainer certification, setting he and Sabrina up for the next phase of their life, which is starting a gym in Baton Rouge that works in synergy with the foundation.
“I was like, ‘Hey, this would be a great opportunity for me to get a certification that if I wanted to train other athletes or people in my circle just to help them be fit.’ But at the same time, if we were able to build a gym, then we [are] able to correlate with the foundation and be able to host so many of our mentorship programs.”
Each step they do take can now be in custom Langston Galloway shoes. The seven-year NBA vet has helped design sneakers for NBA events, his teammates and just for his own personal collection. As Galloway told VICE back in 2019, growing up he would get hyped over sneakers and kicks in the magazines and on his favorite NBA stars.
“I’ve always had a passion for sneakers, but I couldn’t afford them,” Galloway told VICE at the time.
Now, the kid who kickstarted his community outreach thanks to a love for shoes, has a room just for his kicks. Close to 700 pairs lining every available square inch. His favorites are still the classic Jordan 13’s. But it’s the custom pairs that gain notoriety. They cover his favorite 90’s cartoons, Black History Month, Family Guy, breast cancer awareness and more. Working with designer Andrew Lewis, the duo have created custom designs for LG Kicks—how Galloway refers to his collection—that have caught the eye of fans, players and even the league itself.
After Galloway wore a pair of Toy Story inspired shoes, the reaction was so strong that the NBA “retired” the sneakers, putting them in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It’s a feather in the cap for Galloway who, if he weren’t living his dream as a basketball player, would be designing kicks…in addition to broadcast work and gaming.
The crux of the Langston Galloway story is his dogged determination to chase a dream. In a league that spits players out at an average of four and a half years, Galloway has gone from undrafted to a roster to a seven-year veteran.
Galloway left his Louisiana home, starred for four years at the mid-major Saint Joseph’s University, went undrafted in the 2014 NBA draft, spent two months in the New York Knicks developmental league and then was called up by the Knicks in early January. By season’s end, he was averaging 11.8 points per game and was named to the 2015 NBA All-Rookie Second Team. He is the first undrafted player in Knicks history to make an NBA All-Rookie team.
“It’s never been easy. It’s always been a challenge. And I think going un-drafted, it was definitely a low in my life because I was like, ‘man, am I not good enough to be here? Or what?’ And it kind of taught me, ‘Hey, I have to work even harder.’”
“I have to put more sacrifice on the line…that’s where my mentality has always been…you have to go out there and play just as hard because they’ll try to kill you, just like you’re trying to kill them. That’s how the mentality of this league is. It’s ‘No Boys Allowed’ for a reason.”
The journeyman who grew up wanting to emulate Allen Iverson has played in five cities, working his way onto rosters with former foes; guys like Devin Booker and Chris Paul, who play with Galloway now in Phoenix.
“That’s been great…just from a standpoint of understanding how they think, how they work, being able to build a relationship with those guys off the court and seeing how they’ve done so much in the community,” notes Galloway.
Now Galloway—who has averaged 8.5 points per game, 1.7 assists per game and 2.6 rebounds per game in his career—is sacrificing yet again, willing to do what it takes to remain viable by taking care of his body like never before.
He’s conformed to a vegan diet—“I had to recreate myself over these last couple of seasons going vegan and just trying to find ways to keep myself going”—and he’s learned to never, ever be without hydration on hand, specially “Mountain Valley [Water]; that’s the one water that I can’t go without.”
Every small sacrifice though, every bump in the road, is what shapes Langston Galloway.
“I think that I can always look back on—it’s never been the easiest ride. It’s always been something I had to sacrifice within myself to understand the next step. What’s this teaching me? What am I learning here?”
So, how would one describe Langston Galloway?
An underdog, a fighter, a grinder, a philanthropist and entrepreneur. A son, a dad, husband and even shoe designer. All of those work. However, Detroit Pistons Head Coach Dwayne Casey sums it up another way: “one of the best humans possible.”
His perseverance has shown an ability to succeed on the court, and his dedication to community service has proven even if your name isn’t huge in the NBA, your impact can be.