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Chicago area designer's work seen on athletes around the country

Chicago area designer's work seen on athletes around the country
Chicago area designer's work seen on athletes around the country 03:12

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) – Fans might have seen Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese playing in custom, hand-painted shoes this season.

They were designed by local artist Marvin Baroota, whose work is all done by hand in Des Plaines and has been seen on professional athletes in Chicago and across the country, which all started through social media.

Baroota's artistic eye began working in graphic design. That all changed the day that he bought an airbrush and taught himself how to use it.

"There's nothing more I love than a challenge," he said. "So I literally would just go on YouTube, see how they're doing it. I could have done anything else, backpacks, portraits, or anything."

But Baroota found a niche in shoes. He'd always been a Chicago sports fan and in 2016, the first athlete he got in touch with was former Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan.

"It was a Halloween pair," Baroota said. "He had just came from Denver and I would just spam him through social media. I didn't get the next Bears athlete until a little after but it caught traction when I started messaging Tyrann Mathieu."

Baroota started his own business SoLegit Customs that year and has since designed shoes for players across multiple NFL teams and for the league's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative. He said he's worked with 60 to 70 Bears players including current running back Khalil Herbert and cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

One of the pairs Baroota worked on for Justin Fields in 2022 lives forever in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Bears quarterback wore the shoes while he ran for 178 yards against the Miami Dolphins to set the record for most rushing yards in a game by a QB.

"So that's cool," Baroota said.

He continues to design shoes for some of the biggest names in sports, one of the most recent was the Sky's rookie star, Angel Reese.

"She's one of the coolest people I've literally worked with, and I've worked with a lot," Baroota said. "I've done four for her, and I have about 17 hiding in the shed, in the attic, just ready to go."

Reese's shoes have created headlines thanks to designs the two have collaborated on. On one pair, she wanted the "Baltimore Barbie" displayed.

"And I was like, 'That's all you want, I got it," he said.

The vision for each pair can strike Baroota at any moment. That's where working in his home studio in Des Plaines can come in handy.

"I sleep in the next room so it's like I'll wake up and I'm like, 'Let's go,'" he said.

Baroota turned his dream into a reality by helping athletes look and feel their best.

"Definitely feels great, especially if they go off, that's one of the best feelings. It's not that I feel like I did something, but it's just like the aura, as they say nowadays," he said. "They just vibe with it and keep going."

Baroota's goal is to collaborate with another brand and continue to design full-time. He said he likes it when athletes give him 20% of an idea, and his creativity does the rest.

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