Words: Brandon “Jinx” Jenkins

Photos: @13thWitness

“The Ones” celebrates a new generation of defiant, talented individuals. Click here for more stories about the cast.


Drafted as a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Jamal Adams is one of the most exciting young players in the league. Yet it would be hard to tell that he’s relatively new to the NFL by watching his impressive performance on the field, as the starting strong safety for the New York Jets.

When I meet Jamal in New York City, there are some signs that, despite his veteran-like talent, he’s still young — 22, to be exact. He’s been shooting for Jordan’s The Ones lookbook all afternoon and has finally taken a break to swap ‘fits and get out of the sun for a bit. As I step into his trailer, he’s bumping trap music and rapping along to every word, rap hands and everything.

It quickly becomes apparent that Jamal has his eyes and ears on the pulse of what’s happening in the culture, both past and present. Even though we were talking about sneakers and diss tracks, his attention to even the smallest details represents his style on and off the field. Jamal’s mix of performance and personality is definitely setting him up for long-term success.


 

What was it like before you were officially in the league, in terms of your expectations? You’ve got your high school and college days behind you, and you’re about to step into the NFL.

I just wanted to come in and earn the respect of the locker room. As a rookie coming in, the veterans look to you to make an impact, especially if you’re a high draft pick. I already had pressure coming in. They were expecting big things out of me right away. The veterans respect you a lot more when you just come in, do the right things and get the job done.

Was there any apprehension about that challenge? You obviously know the sport, but the NFL is a different game.

Man, I’ve always been like this. I never doubted myself. You can’t come in blinded. You have to understand what you’re getting yourself into. I also realized that the Jets hadn’t won in a long time. You gotta change the energy in the locker room. That was my main focus.

Is your confidence actually with you all the time?

Yeah, definitely. For example, when you’re walking around on the street, and you’re wearing a nice ‘fit that you confidently put together, no one can tell you anything. It’s just like that when you’re on the field or on the court. If you believe in yourself, then nothing can get in the way.

I had a talk with my agent recently about style before the game. In football, not everybody is dressing up. That’s the thing I’m going take and run with, man — having that ‘fit, that style. Make it as big as possible.

I like that you brought up a ‘fit, because I tell people that a good haircut can change your life.

Bro, without a question! I got a haircut yesterday, and I’m going on vacation tonight. I’m about to go get it touched up again! You gotta be fresh. You want that line crispy when you step off that plane. You want your Js a certain way. People don’t realize that clothes are an art; dressing is an art.


Like I said earlier, Jamal is cool. He’s prepared and observant, whether he’s stepping into an NFL locker room for the first time or understanding the importance of a carefully-timed, quality haircut. I can tell that Jamal has logged serious hours at barbershops through the way he tells stories. Everyone’s told or heard the “I was in line for a pair of Jordans” story at their local shop. Jamal shares his.


 

How are Jordans part of your life, whether it’s performance or day-to-day?

Honestly, I’ll never forget my first time standing in a line for a pair of Jordans. I was in the sixth grade, and the Concords (XIs) had just come out. I was at the mall with two of my boys. My boy who was driving us said that he already had his pair secured, because he knew the lady at the store. So I said, “Okay, bet. We’re going to be okay, too, right?” He said, “Yeah, I got you. Don’t trip.”

Of course, our Js weren’t secured. The store only got 15 pairs or so, maybe not even that. We sat in the parking lot from midnight until six in the morning…

…so you could get the Jordans.

 I didn’t get the Js! It’s part of my signing with the brand, I guess. [Laughs] Everybody was rushing to the line, and I never got them. I always wanted to stand in line and actually cop a pair.

As soon as Jordan Brand came to me, it was a no brainer. Jordan isn’t just a brand. It’s a family. It’s more than just the name. It’s the people who come with it. It’s the things we get to do as a family.

The Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG is now available from select retailers.