4. Champion

Years in service: 1991-present

Rocked by: White Mike in the yellow Ford Mustang with two 15s in a Kicker Box and a Miami Hurricanes starter parka.


Defining feature: A big-ass “C” logo on the back.

If you had a pair of these joints in middle school, you were cool for two reasons: 1) Your parents were willing to spend more than $50 on some sneakers for you; and 2) You wore adult-sized shoes, since, at first, they didn’t make them for kids. Nothing affirmed your bourgeois adolescence like sliding up into school in a pair of 7½  Champions with a Sony Discman. You almost had enough confidence to ask Tomeka in orchestra if she wanted to go together.


3. Jox

Years in service: 1981-1996

Rocked by: Bamas and people whose parents meant well.

Defining feature: They almost looked like Adidas, bruh. But they had an extra stripe.


The Thom McAn in Coliseum Mall is where you wound up after Moms had had it up to here with all your expensive-sneaker foolishness and it was the exclusive domain of Jox sneakers. You might not know Jox as a brand, but they’ve gone by many names: Bo-Bo’s, Butter Cookies, Sucka Sneaks and Don’t-Rob-Me 1s. They even had the temerity and the stones to make some shell-toe Jox just in case you wanted to give your bullies and tormentors extra ammo.

2. KangaROOS

Years in service: 1979-present

Rocked by: Walter Payton and first-graders.

Defining feature: Pockets. But, like, you really couldn’t use them.

It’s like they knew they were making kicks for a generation of latchkey kids by putting a pocket on the side specifically designed for holding the front-door key to the house. I’m guessing that these shoes gave a whole lotta parents a false sense of confidence in their kids’ ability to take care of themselves and, conversely, that a whole lotta missing-kid reports got filed with “wearing KangaROOS” as a descriptor of what the child was wearing when he got lured into the van.


1. British Knights

Years in service: 1985-present

Rocked by: Chris Thomas (the original mayor of Rap City) and Derrick Coleman.

Defining feature: Snakeskin and gold accents. They were like a Cadillac for your feet.


When I was in fourth grade, my moms bought me a pair of BKs, and I was the coolest kid in my school for, like, three hours. Then this white girl named Annie scuffed my right sneaker in the lunch line, effectively ruining my shoes, my swag and any hopes I had of graduating from front of the school bus to a coveted back-of-the-bus spot (sorry, Miss Rosa). I made my poor mother drive all over the city to try to find something to fix that damn scuff, to no avail. I’m pretty sure I can blame part of my brief stint as a Five Percenter on that incident. Annie never apologized.

Corey Richardson, originally from Newport News, Va., is currently living in Chicago with his wife and daughter. Ad guy at work, dad guy in life and whiskey enthusiast, he spends his time crafting words, telling bedtime stories and working hard at becoming the legend he is in his own mind.