Mother Believes Son Was Killed Over $200 Air Jordan 11 Sneakers


A reported 1,200 people have died in sneaker theft-related crimes and now, a D.C. family believes their son’s life ended over a pair of Air Jordans.

The family of James Anthony Smith spoke to WUSA9 on Wednsday (Dec. 20), just days after the high schooler’s death. Smith was shot and killed on Monday (Dec. 18) at the Frederick Douglass Recreation Center in SE DC. First responders found his body a short distance away from the basketball courts without his Air Jordan 11, an early Christmas gift he received from his mother.

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“He was an all-American kid,” said his mother, Benita Smith. She said he gifted the shoes to the 17-year-old because he was a good kid. “He loved his red shoes. He loved basketball. He loved his computer games.  I can’t believe he was killed, all over a pair of shoes.”

The Air Jordan retro model commemorating Michael Jordan’s time with the Chicago Bulls hit the market earlier this month with a hefty $200 price tag.

“I wish I never bought them,” she said “They were an early Christmas gift. That’s all he wanted. He doesn’t ask for much, so I got them.” Smith attended Ballou High School and was expecting to joint the football team next year.

Metropolitan police haven’t made any arrests but are looking at robbery as a motive. Smith’s stepfather George Wright praised his son and called out Nike and Jordan for the amped culture around the sneakers.

“James was a good kid,” Wright said. “He wasn’t out here causing any trouble. If Michael Jordan and Nike had to pay for some of these funerals out here, they wouldn’t make these shoes as expensive as they are. It’s ridiculous.”

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