Rolling with the Rookies

By Gavin Porter

Over the last five years Haason Reddick, Mitchell Trubisky, O.J. Howard and Mike Williams have used the football field as a canvas for their work. NFL teams must have liked what they saw because all four athletes were selected in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

But big hits, perfect throws, bone-jarring blocks and jaw-dropping catches are far from all these athletes bring to the table - or car.

Marcus Rivero, aka SolesBySir, a custom sneaker design mogul from Miami, teamed up with Hyundai to deliver unique car wraps that tell the life stories of Reddick, Trubisky, Howard and Williams.

“This was such a crazy cool project,” Rivero, who creates custom cleats for nearly 500 NFL players said. “I met four guys, four first rounders, went to four hometowns, met four families and completed the designs in less than a month. This isn’t something I’ve ever done before.”

Hyundai provided Rivero with the outline of a Hyundai Sante Fe, a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet and the Sketchable app. From there Rivero traveled to each athlete’s hometown and spent time learning about their journey and who they are.

“I wanted to really get to know these guys so that the wraps would have in-depth and unique information you cannot read about,” Rivero said. “It was like an open book test. I had so many cool stories to work with but I didn’t want it to read like a novel. I wanted it to be a piece of art.”

Rivero sat one-on-one with the athletes and went over design concepts, colors, fonts and more in order to convey their voice in the car wrap. The process allowed Rivero to have fun with the design while still accurately depicting the lives of these talented players.

Each wrap took Rivero at least 15 hours to complete. Three of the designs he actually had about 80% of the way finished before scrapping the concept and running with something different.

“It was so much fun,” Rivero said. “I knew I was going to give it my all because these guys were genuinely letting me see into who they were. And when it came to the design, I have to be absolutely in love with something before I submit it and I definitely felt that way with these four pieces.”

It was truly a dream come true for Reddick, Trubisky, Howard and Williams to hear their names called on draft day. But they aren’t the only ones living the dream.

About four years ago Rivero, who is one of the top custom gear designers in the sports industry, was not in the custom scene at all. While he was a sneakerhead, he had never painted or designed his own pair of kicks.

Then one Valentine's Day he spent 20 hours on a single pair of shoes as a gift. Family and friends loved it and from there he started working with Nolan Carroll, of the Miami Dolphins. Carroll helped Rivero build his network to about ten players and from there, his business took off.

SolesBySir has reached the point that when the NFL dubbed week 13 of the 2016 season “My Cause, My Cleats”, Rivero found himself painting cleats for hundreds of athletes and even for entire teams.

“Sometimes I just think about how crazy it is that this is happening to me,” Rivero said. “I have no end goals. I am simply living the dream. I was happy with one guy, now I have half the league.”

If the NFL repeats its “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign, Rivero can expect his phone to ring with Reddick, Trubisky, Howard and Williams needing some custom cleats done. The bond that formed between Rivero and these athletes is real and the art that was created from his time with them displays that relationship.

As for what’s next for Rivero, he is not sure but he knows there is plenty of canvas left for him to leave his mark.

“Twenty years from now I can look back and know that I did everything I could to help break customization into this industry,” Rivero said. “But I’m far from finished.”