NBA player Jonathan Isaac and his sports apparel brand, UNITUS, has released its first basketball sneaker, the Judah 1, featuring Bible verses that allow customers to wear their values.
Isaac launched UNITUS this summer, and the company dropped its first basketball shoe on Thursday evening. Isaac says the shoe is the first basketball sneaker to feature Bible verses.
UNITUS posted on X: “You’ve faced setbacks, criticism, and trials of many kinds, but God has never left you. You are never alone. He is your #triumph. The #JUDAH1 Triumph is out now. Shop now on our website https://bit.ly/triumphlaunchtwitter….”
Isaac explained in a separate post, “Most people see the ‘Judah 1’ as an outlandish endeavor… shoot, when we first started, so did I. I was afraid that delivering a sneaker that represented our values without compromising style or performance was too tall a task. But here we are!!”
The Judah 1 gets its name from a few different sources, Isaac explained. “It was big for me to have a Bible verse on there. My Christian faith is the center stone of my life. And my middle name is Judah, so Judah’s on there, and the shoe is lion-inspired with the lion’s mane on the backside and the herringbone on the bottom. I just tried my best to create something that spoke to me aesthetically and had different components that spoke to me in my life.”
The shoe comes in different color options, each with a different Bible verse, though currently only one version of the shoe, which is light blue and white, is on the website for order. 2 Corinthians 4:9 is written on the back of the shoe and states: “persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”
Isaac said that he chose the verse to adorn the first shoe to be released because of his struggles with injuries. “I’ve been hit with a few injuries and had to miss quite a bit of time, but I’ve continued to keep the faith and not waver and trust that God is with me and for me. Even though I’ve been struck down, I haven’t been destroyed. He hasn’t left me, and I can still keep kicking.”
Isaac wanted to choose Bible verses that “were important to me and spoke to my journey and spoke to who I am as an individual.”
The orange shoes feature, Proverbs 28:1, which reads: “The wicked flee when no one pursues them, but the righteous are as bold as lions.” Isaac shared that the verse is one “I’ve tried my best to live by.”
He explained, “As I’ve encountered different moments in my life where I had to stand — going back to the bubble and the whole BLM [Black Lives Matter], COVID — where I didn’t get vaccinated — I was taking a stand and saying, ‘You know what, I think that this is important and I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and do it boldly, trusting that God is with me and God is for me. And, you know, it’s paid off. And I hope that other people who get a chance to wear the shoe are embodying what the shoe represents as well.”
Isaac and his brand are seeking to stand out from the crowd by doing things differently. The company stands for biblical values and refuses to manufacture in China — in sharp contrast to larger companies and NBA-sponsored products.
This past September, Isaac spoke at Liberty University’s convocation, during which he told Liberty students, “The reality of what I’m talking about this morning is that I am the unlikely person. I’m the unlikely person to stand. I’m the unlikely person to get up on this stage and talk to you because of my background and journey.”
Isaac experienced anxiety as he tried to find his merit in being a great basketball player. It was God’s love that has given him the strength to stand. He recounted,
“I was so used to working for love, I was so used to clinging to the perception that other people had of me and striving to be loved, (but) I started to rest in the love that God has for me. The reality of a transformational relationship with Jesus Christ is real, and I know that because I’ve lived it and I’m walking through it. I’ve had so many ups and downs, I’ve been injured, I’ve trusted God, I’ve walked with God, and there are a few things I know to be true. I know that the world is changing, and the necessity of you being able to stand up for your faith is only going to become more paramount, (yet) harder to do.”
He charged students that they too can stand up for their faith, saying, “God is trying to equip each and every one of you with purpose, and you’re going to carry out something for the Kingdom of God. It’s going to be a stand in one way or another, if it’s before the Lord or in your everyday life, and you’re going to have to do it or you will not be who God has created you to be.”
Isaac said it was important to him to speak at Liberty and to its students. “I hope that they’ve been encouraged to stand up for what they believe in and understand that God can, and will, use anybody who is willing, no matter what you struggles are or your background. Coming to a Christian college was important to me because this is the body (of Christ), and so having the students be able to hear my story and take something away from it is important. Them being planted here and having this community is so special.”
Christians like Isaac are doing what our nation needs so many more to do. He and those around him built an alternative to the sports apparel behemoths that use slave labor in China, denigrate America and its values, and promote left-wing causes. UNITUS, by contrast, is a brand that isn’t ashamed of its biblical values, even if the culture says they are wrong, and it shows those values through righteous action, most notably by choosing not to rely on slave labor for its products.
We need more clothing companies, more content creators, more authors and movie studios, more politicians, and so many others with conservative and biblical values to impact the world around them by telling God’s truth and choosing to take the right actions.
Isaac encouraged Liberty students that God can use them, and he urged them to step up. That charge is poignant for students, but it’s good advice for people at all stages of life. Have you thought about starting a business but you’re afraid? Have you written a book, but you are worried people will malign your ideas or your values? Do you have a passion for politics, but you’ve been told Christians should stay out of the public square? Be willing to try! Don’t make such a move without prayer and careful consideration, but don’t let anxieties stop you from serving the Lord and engaging the world around you.
As Jonathan Isaac has demonstrated, Christians who place all their trust in God, stand up for His values, and let Him lead the way will generate impact for His kingdom.
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