LeBron helps design sneaker for disabled athletes

FILE - In this June 19, 2016 file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James answers questions as he holds his daughter Zhuri during a post-game press conference after Game 7 of basketball's NBA Finals Sunday, June 19, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. On Tuesday, Dec. 27, James, who ended 52 years of sports heartache by bringing Cleveland a championship and used his superstar platform to address social causes, was chosen as The Associated Press 2016 Male Athlete of the Year. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File, Pool)

CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James has teamed up on a special sneaker for special athletes.

The Cavaliers star and Nike have unveiled a new shoe designed for disabled athletes that can be slipped on and off more easily. The LeBron Soldier 10 FlyEase is modeled after the signature shoe worn by James, but it has no laces and can be secured with Velcro straps and zippers.

“It’s about us empowering every kid and everybody to understand we are all athletes,” James said.

The project is near and dear to James, a father of three. He hosted kids from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation last week at the team’s facility and presented them with new pairs of the stylish, slip-on sneakers.

“Sports should never be taken away from a kid,” the three-time NBA champion said. “It creates fun. It creates laughter. It creates brotherhood or sisterhood. To be able to have shoes that are easy to get on and off gives kids another opportunity to live out their dreams.”

Longtime Nike designer Tobie Hatfield said the new model is designed to eliminate the struggle for some kids to simply get the shoe on their foot.

“One of the key learnings we’ve had in crafting accessible footwear is the importance of easy entry and exit of the shoe, not just simplifying its fastening system,” Hatfield said. “Eliminating the intricate hand movement of lace tying is important, but if the athlete cannot get their foot into the shoe, lacing becomes a moot point.”

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