“This brings back memories,” said Ivory Latta as she autographed a fan's 2007 Final Four souvenir hat from Cleveland, Ohio. Latta said former Cavalier Lebron James flew back, from a road game, to watch her play for the UNC Tarheels. Now, six years later, Latta serves as an assistant coach for the UNC women's basketball team and a point guard for the WNBA Washington Mystics.
In May, 2013, Latta spoke of her desire to see her picture with the NFinity shoes sign and her own shoe in stores. This past Sunday, Latta introduced her signature basketball shoe called, IL/12t, at Stash Shoe store in the Epicenter, Uptown Charlotte. The black, red and white footwear is named for her famous crossover, known to be the 'ill-ist' in women's games and represents her initials, IL and jersey number, 12. NFinity, based in Atlanta, a leading sports shoe and apparel company sponsored the IL/12t, created by Latta.
Latta said her shoe comforms to a female's physique and helps to prevent the knee injuries ladies often suffer in basketball. She said players always had to wear men's shoes, mainly Jordans.
“You're never too small to dream big. Here I am, a small girl from a small town, with her own shoe. God gave me these wheels and I'm going to roll with them,” said Latta, 29, five foot six, 138 pounds and native McConnells, South Carolina.
At Stash Shoes, Olympic High School Girls basketball team members excitedly questioned Latta as she signed their jerseys. She patiently answered and offered advice to each one of them. “It's all about hard work and dedication,” said Latta.
“As young minority female athletes, Ivory told us what we needed to hear,” said Amber Dawkins, JV, Olympic.
Sherrise, an eighth grade player, height 6'1, from Hickory Ridge Middle sought advice from Latta in regards to being a better player, promoting her talent, choosing the right college and scholarship opportunities.
The Ivory Latta Skills Academy builds confidence, character, quality basketball skills and work ethics for young players. Latta published a children's book titled, Despite the Height. She also created an inspirational clothing line with T-shirts that read, YSIG, You Sleep, I Grind, You Can't Teach Heart and His Pain My Motivation. Plus, Latta serves as an Ambassador for the Parkinson Disease Foundation.
In 2006, Latta earned the ESPN.com Player of the Year, the Basketball Times National Player of the Year and the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard Award. She's played in Turkey, for the Atlanta Dream and in the 2013 WNBA All-Star Game.
The IL/12t sells for $150, online and at Stash Shoes.