Alex Michaels, an incoming sixth-grader from Island Park, had trouble finding sneakers that fit his unique size — but now the difficulty he’ll have is deciding which pair to wear.
Alex, of Lincoln Orens Middle School, was gifted 10 pairs of new sneakers on Friday — size 15½ extra wide — after expressing to a teacher he’s had trouble finding kicks similar to what others wear.
The sneakers were donated by the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, along with North Babylon native Danny Green, who plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Alex, 11, entered a classroom on Friday and saw several pairs of sneakers, Nikes and Pumas among them. With a smile, he tried on a purple pair of Nikes.
“I really like the sneakers,” he said. “I didn’t expect it.”
Darlene Morales, Alex's fifth-grade teacher, said Alex had a candid conversation with her this summer about finding sneakers. Morales, a 15-year teacher, said she “reached out to some of my friends” for help.
Osei Millar, a former basketball player at Hofstra University, answered the call from Morales. Millar, who has since moved to Baltimore from Brooklyn, understands what Alex goes through.
“Being a big guy myself, I know what it’s like to not be able to find things your size in the stores, in the malls, and you need to custom this, and custom that,” said Millar, who is 6-foot-7. “I just wanted to use whatever resources I could to reach out to some folks and see if we can get something that fits him.”
Alex’s parents, Seth and Elissa Michaels, weren’t always successful when finding shoes for their son.
“We have to go online, [and] sometimes they don’t have his size,” Seth said. “It’s hard to find sneakers.”
Elissa said the new sneakers will give Alex "a bit more confidence” — he would see the kicks his friends wore, which he wanted but couldn’t get because of his size.
Seth Michaels said Morales “went above and beyond the duty of a teacher.”
As for Alex, he doesn't care for the attention he may receive for the new sneakers when he starts school in the fall. He doesn't want his feet to grow anymore.
"No, not at all," he said, shaking his head.
With Alejandra Villa Loarca