Drew League partners with Adidas
Adidas’ involvement in the Black community and culture is a valuable asset for the company that many consumers often overlook. Over the past five years, Adidas has partnered with different Black businesses and organizations with their Honoring Black Excellence initiative, and this year they are highlighting and supporting the famous and world-renowned Drew League.
Founded by Alvin Willis in 1973 and later stewarded by Dino Smiley, the Drew League has grown into a highly-respected pro-am basketball league, hosting games each summer in Los Angeles. The league’s initial mission was to foster meaningful relationships among youth through sports to enrich their neighborhoods and build an institution to bring top players back to the community. Now in its 50th year, the league’s influence extends beyond the court through the Drew League Foundation, impacting the community directly and sports culture at large.
“It’s an honor, and looking back to when my husband took over in the ‘80s, and I was hand washing the uniforms, to reaching a point of getting sponsorships and now being supported by Adidas, it’s been an awesome and exciting journey.” said Stephanie Smiley, one of the co-founders of the Drew League Foundation.
The Drew league started with six community teams playing at local Los Angeles schools like Charles Drew Middle School before moving on to Washington Park, then settling in Charles Drew high school in 2012. The league has expanded to 28 teams over 50 years and had NBA stars join during the offseason.
“When you think about 50 years ago, and you look at the archives, you realize there’s been so much going on in the Black community, it makes me proud to be the league commissioner,” said Chaniel Smiley, the league commissioner. “To watch it go from a community league in Watts to now seeing it go and develop overseas in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines, watching the growth of the league has been a beautiful sight to behold.”
Chaniel has been the commissioner for the past six years after taking over for her father, but she didn’t have that in mind when thinking about her future. “I wasn’t planning on doing this after I graduated from Southern University, I wanted to be a probation officer, but I realized that wasn’t my calling, and I noticed my dad needed help with the league, and I decided to follow him around to be a helpmate, but eventually I came to the conclusion that this is where I belonged,” Chaniel said.
The Smiley family and the Drew league are both grateful for the support Adidas has given to them.
“When we partnered with Adidas, I noticed the Adidas family embraces Black culture and allows people of color, women and youth to flourish and excel in whatever they want to do creatively,” Chanel said. “This has been an exceptional partnership with them the past two years, and they have been an asset to us on and off the court throughout the year. They are givers and authentic, and I appreciate them for that.”