AOL Interview: Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy explains why he's auctioning off his sneaker collection for charity
By JOHN DORN
Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy doesn't want to be a sneakerhead anymore. But the way he's disposing of his collection is pretty endearing.
The 28-year-old is in the process of auctioning off his array of Nikes, Jordans and other sneakers on eBay. The proceeds are being donated to Detroit Workers and Builders and Empowerment Plan -- two charities dedicated to improving the livelihood of the Detroit homeless.
Levy spoke with AOL to explain sneaker culture, discuss the decision to ditch his collection and to tell us more about the organizations he's supporting -- oh, and we asked him if he's ever getting rid of his beard.
Read our conversation with Levy and click through the gallery below for Levy's best Instagram shots.
Tell us why you've decided to auction off your entire collection, and how long has this collection been in the making?
The reasons why I invested time, money and energy into acquiring 150 pairs of shoes at one point, no longer aligns with the human I want to be. There's more important things that I can direct that towards.
It's been a conscious shift the past two years or so. It took a lot more years to get these shoes -- back to about high school. I was just placing too much value on things that didn't matter. In this particular case, sneakers.
Describe the changes you've made over the past two years or so.
I was trying to be a part of a culture that to me became about excessive consumerism and materialism. I'm making an effort to live smaller to an extent. This is a small step.
You see people literally killing each other over a Jumpman logo or another brand that couldn't care less about you, as long as you're spending money on each and every release. I had a blind faithful allegiance to keep up with the latest and "most exclusive" sneakers.
I get a lot of crap from people now for a worn pair of grey Nikes that I wear probably 90 percent of the time you see me. I'm making an effort to wear them until they no longer serve their function.
Get an absolute full wear out of them until I need a new pair. My plan is to wait for the sole to split or something... More important things to focus on.
What first made you realize that your passion for collection was dying?
Seeing guys stand around in amazement looking at a pair of $1000 shoes a teammate just ordered in multiple colors or the adoration of a sneaker collection posted on Instagram seemed silly to me. But I couldn't say anything -- I had a closet stacked full of boxes myself. I have shoes that I haven't even worn. Why do I need another pair... and another pair?
I felt guilty seeing so many people in need especially here in Detroit. My money and energy could be better served than for my bragging rights about a pair of shoes. "Oh you ain't got these!" ... "You never seen these before!"
I literally was driving things to storage when I moved last year and had the back of my truck stacked with about 40 boxes of shoes. I stopped at a red light where two homeless men were asking for money. One had no shoes, the other had torn apart makeshift shoes. Both clearly in need of things much more important than a pair of shoes, but the irony of it weighed on me.
What's your opinion on sneakerheads, now that you've made a conscious effort to transition away from that label?
I wouldn't bash sneaker culture because there are a lot of people with a true appreciation for it the same way that some have an appreciation for and seek to collect art. Same (crap), different toilet.
What's your favorite shoe of all time? The one you'll have the hardest time letting go?
My favorite pair are the Vegas Sole Collector Dunk released in 2006, I think. They were like a piece of art. Haha, I spent most of my Pell Grant to get them a few years later after finally finding a pair. Probably will be the hardest pair to let go.
Tell us more about Detroit Workers and Builders and Empowerment Plan, the two organizations you're donating the proceeds to.
Both organizations, as of now (a third will be decided on soon), are centered on training and employing homeless. They both are aiming to find a sustainable way to help the homeless, by employing citizens in need.
One last question, how long are you going to let your beard grow?
My beard is going with me to the grave. It is, always had been and always will be.
WATCH: Levy pulls insane stunt on top of a flying airplane
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