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From Hall of Fame Sneakers to Community Leadership, Pistons’ Langston Galloway Shines Off the Court

LAS VEGAS -- Langston Galloway hasn’t played in the NBA Summer League since 2015, when he suited up with the New York Knicks, but the veteran guard remembers what it’s like to be one of many guys trying to snag a spot in the Association after going undrafted. His name wasn't called on draft night in 2014, following four years at Saint Joseph's, but that didn't stop him from working his way into the league.

Nowadays, Langston is more secure with his position in the basketball world, though he’s hardly sat still since signing a three-year deal with the Detroit Pistons in 2017. In addition to working on his game, the 27-year-old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has spent his offseason trying different training techniques, educating himself in business through programs set up by the National Basketball Players Association, building his brand (LG Kicks, including one pair in the Hall of Fame), and giving back to his hometown.

CloseUp360 caught up with Langston following a workout in Las Vegas with Pistons teammate Thon Maker to talk about his experience as a pro, his growth off the court, how he became one of the NBA’s pre-eminent sneakerheads and more.

(The interview has been edited for clarity and length.)

CloseUp360: How would you sum up your journey so far in the NBA?

Langston Galloway: I probably would sum it up in one word by saying sacrifice. It’s something that I've always done my whole career. Coming out of college, I get an opportunity to go all four years at Saint Joe's and finish there, have a great career there. But at the same time, it's like you want to make your dreams come true and make it to the NBA. And not hearing my name called, I could have said, "Hey, look, let me just go overseas and just chase the money and try to play."

But that was never my goal. So I was always, like, "Hey, let me find a way to make my dreams come true." And I think the sacrifice and going to the D-League at the time—now it's the G League—knowing that this is an opportunity for me to really work on my game and hone in on my skills. I think that's the main thing—just taking advantage of my opportunities every single day. And it's been sacrifice, being in the gym, late nights, early mornings, and just doing the things that other guys might not want to do.

CU360: There's a lot of guys in Vegas who were undrafted, like your story. If you talked to them, what kind of advice would you share?

LG: I think going undrafted, it gives you that chip and it gives you that extra boost that you always need, especially when you're playing against different guys in the league. I remember my first opportunity playing against a couple of guys that got sent down to play in the D-League at the time. And it was a great opportunity because I could say, "All right, let me see, let me play against them, see where I'm at level-wise, see if I can really compete at that level with a guy that had been drafted. Let's throw the ball up and see what's up."

And I think that's the main key—that you really get to show what you can do. Especially now with the two-way contracts, guys can go out and they can go from playing in a G League game from one night to the next night playing in the NBA and say, "Hey, if I get an opportunity, I gotta go out here and really prove myself." So I think every single time you step on that floor, it's a chance to prove yourself.

CU360: When you look at yourself now physically versus where you were when you started in the NBA, what comes to mind?

LG: Every single day, I work on something new. I've really taken my body very seriously over the last couple of years, eating healthier, doing pilates, yoga. This summer, I'm trying to pick up taekwondo—just doing different things and not like being repetitive, trying new things. And it's been paying off. I've gotten a lot stronger, worked on my core, worked on my balance. And every single day, I just know that in the long haul, I look back and say, "Hey, I got better every single day."

CU360: How did you get into taekwondo?

LG: I was talking to my guy, Joe [Rogowski], [the director of sports medicine and research] with the NBPA and he was just saying, "Hey, look, this might be an opportunity for you to work on your feet and your balance." I was mentioning I should do karate or something like that. And he was, like, ‘Nah, nah, do taekwondo. You should work on your feet." And they have different classes that you can really sign up for. I did boxing this summer as well—more about feet, my defense. That's where I lay my head at every night. It's going out there, locking up the best offender out there. So whoever I have to guard, whoever my assignment is, that's gotta be my key. I've got to lock in on them, and I think doing those different things, it helps me out going forward.

CU360: Do you feel stronger, like you can absorb contact better?

LG: I think I’m more explosive. Like, it might not be a huge burst where I'm exploding to dunk on anybody like that. But just the little small like bursts where you're trying to get by somebody, trying to slide to get in front of somebody, I think I've really noticed that in my body. And being able to continue to work on that every single day, it's really helped out.

CU360: What's it been like getting to know and work out with Thon Maker since you guys have been teammates in Detroit?

LG: Thon is a hell of a worker. You can really tell that he wants to be great. When you're seven foot and you have the skills to handle the ball, shoot the ball, length, I mean, it's huge. It goes a long way and your potential is through the roof. I like working out with different guys—some guys my height, some guys bigger than me. At the end of the day, I'ma guard everybody. So I feel like that's always a personal challenge just to go out there and compete against guys, whether that's shooting, playing against them one-on-one, whatever. I'm always competing against the next guy.

CU360: What are some of your favorite pickup games or pro-am leagues to play in over the summer?

LG: I haven't really played in any pro-ams, but going to UCLA runs, you just never know who will show up there. I normally get there at the end of July, August, and that's when most guys are out there playing. So far, I've seen a lot of good runs out there, so I can't wait to get out there and really test out what all I've been working on this summer, and see how I'm performing.

CU360: I know that the hometown impact is big for you, especially after the historic flooding in 2016 and the recent flooding from Hurricane Barry. Tell us about what you do back in Baton Rouge.

LG: We just started my foundation this past September, the Langston Galloway Foundation. This is going on my fourth annual Langston Galloway Basketball Clinic. It's always just a free clinic for all the kids that come out from Baton Rouge. Wherever you’re from, come out and just get a chance to be around NBA guys. You have myself, a couple of NBA guys that are there, and it's just a number of coaches that either coach at the professional level, college level or at the high school level. So it's a great opportunity for a lot of different kids that get opportunities just to be in front of us, and really get to show what they can do.

CU360: Kids sometimes know players better than the media. They say the darndest things. What kind of things do they tell you when you meet them?

LG: The two things they always ask me is, "Who's the best player you always guarded?" That's number one. And then the second is, if most kids have followed my career or have seen highlights on YouTube and whatnot, they always say, "Man, you got crossed up by Dwyane Wade," this and that. And I'm just, like, "Hey look, it happens, man, it happens. And at least it happened to a guy that's going to be a Hall of Famer. So, hey, I'll take it."

CU360: Are they also asking about your hair? You've grown it out this summer.

LG: I'ma give all credit to my wife. She's loving the 'do and she's the only reason why I'm keeping this hair, so I'll just keep it going. Happy wife, happy life.

CU360: With your foundation, do you have plans for scholarships to help kids get to prep schools and colleges?

LG: I think going forward, with the foundation just getting off the ground, I think the long term will be like being able to have scholarships for kids to come to my camp, and being able to give them a scholarship to go to college. Or maybe in the future, being able to open up a school. Schools down in Louisiana are doing well from the aspect of like charter schools and stuff like that, but trying to make my mark in Baton Rouge, and make sure people can always remember that I came back and gave back to the community. That's why I always try to look from a standpoint of taking a step back and looking back into Baton Rouge, and trying to leave that mark. So that's what I'm trying to continue to do.

CU360: How's everybody in Baton Rouge handling the flooding? Do you have a sense of who's been displaced and who's been able to get back into their homes?

LG: So far, the schools have come back. I won't say all the families are back in their homes or whatnot, but it's a slow process and I'm always just trying to be there. That's why I love going back and doing this free clinic 'cause I run into kids and families that were displaced by that. Or I run into kids just being on the street and really want to just say, "Hey, what's up man? I appreciate what you did for our school or whatnot." And I'm always just trying to be there for anybody and always get a helping hand out. So that's always my goal.

CU360: What was special about the city of Baton Rouge that helped you get to the next step in your career?

LG: I think just family. Baton Rouge is a big family-oriented city, just kinda small, but at the same time big. Over time, just have my family around. And now I have a son; he's there as well. And just always come back home and always get a smile. Being able to hang out with my friends and family. So they've always exuded that energy in me, and I just continue to just show out for the city.

CU360: Do you have any goals to get more involved in the community in an even bigger way in the future?

LG: Going forward, something along the lines like foundation-wise, being able to maybe open up a school or open up maybe a healthcare center or something like that. There's so many performing facilities in Baton Rouge, but being able to just help those kids. Student-athletes first, being able to take care of the student side of it all. There's so many kids that come through that do so well athletically, but when it comes to books, they just fall behind and they get left by the wayside. So I think if I'm able to really find a way to make my niche be in something along those lines, I think I'll be able to really impact the community.

CU360: How was it having your own sneaker with Q4 this past season?

LG: This was actually my second year wearing Q4, but first year with my own shoe. And being able to customize it with the rule exemption, it was great. I really enjoyed customizing different shoes and being able to put my own spin on all my shoes. So it's been pretty cool just to let fans know that there's another side to basketball players. Not just basketball, basketball, basketball, but it's like you have other hobbies and a whole 'nother life outside of it. So just the creativity behind it. Andrew Lewis has helped me create the shoes and Q4, which has done a great job with just allowing me to be the forefront of my own brand. So shout out to Q4 with everything they do for me.

CU360: Behind the scenes, what's your creative process with how you customize your own sneakers?

LG: Behind the scenes, we try to, first and foremost, go off of new movies that's coming out. So playoff time, they had The Lion King that was coming out, about to drop. Aladdin was about to come out, made that possible. And then just depending on the team we were playing against. So I remember the last game in the playoffs, I don't know if a lot of people know, like the video game Big Buck Hunter. You have a gun and you're shooting on the screen. Old school arcade game, and we put it on the shoe, had a big buck on there, playing the Milwaukee Bucks. So it was pretty cool.

Just thinking of creative ideas that we can come up with. And then being a ‘90s kid, there's so many cartoons that came out around that time. You had Toy Story. [My sneakers with themes from that movie] got actually inducted into the Hall of Fame, so that was pretty cool to see that up in the Hall of Fame and retire those shoes. I feel like every day, we're working on something new. And this season, it'll be fun.

CU360: How have your teammates embraced your different colorways?

LG: It's crazy, but dudes on my team refer to me as LG Kicks, man. So everything that I do, like they always are watching. Especially with kicks, they always ask me, "Hey man, what kicks should I buy?" Or if I'm walking around stores, "Man, what store should I go to?" Or, "What's something that I can do to get a shoe limited or whatnot?" So I feel like in the locker room, I'm always the guy they kinda go to, which is cool.

When they see me pull out a shoe, they always tell me, "Don't show me until the game time," because most of the shoes, I'll have them at the arenas. If we're playing on the road, I have them shipped to the arena and I'll have them in the box. And then once it's about to be game time, I'll pull them out or I'll give them the box and say, "Hey look, go ahead, open up, check it out." And once they check out the shoe, they're either freaking out, like, "Man, this shit is going to blow up." Or they'll be, like, "Man, you’re always up to something." So they always keep an eye to see what I'm doing. And most of them, they want to do the same thing. Like my boy Khyri Thomas, he has a couple of customized shoes by one of my guys upcoming this season. So it should be fun to see guys follow the trend and customize this shoe and get their name out there, like, "Hey look, I'm a sneakerhead, too."

I think eventually, too, I want to have my own sneaker store, either back home or somewhere, where teams can go in the summertime or they can go during the year, and they stop through my store and then check all the heat that I have. So it's a pretty good feeling to know that guys really look up to me as a kicks entrepreneur, I guess you could say.

CU360: They're just as excited as fans.

LG: They are. And I feel like now, I'm getting noticed by the coaches, too. They’re always, like, looking at my feet trying to see, like, "What you got on today? What you gonna wear today?" So it's pretty known around the league now that I'm one of the guys that you know is going to always rock something new on the court.

CU360: With the NBA's rule change last year allowing guys to have their own colorways, it's opened up a whole new world to find sneaker designers, find movie tie-ins. So for you, it was probably a great opportunity to say, "Man, I can't wait to run with this idea."

LG: Yeah. It's a little bit just falling right into my lap. It's like, "Hey, look, this is like a tossup. Like, do what you want." And I'm really doing what I want. So it's pretty cool.

CU360: What's your perspective on the broader competition among shoe companies nowadays and what that's done to open up opportunities for players to build their personal brands?

LG: Everybody wants to be an outlier. Everybody wants to show what they're about with their brand. And I think that the NBPA has done a great job with fighting for our license back from the player aspect, and then letting the player have his own voice. So I think that's where you see guys like P.J. Tucker, Montrezl Harrell, Spencer Dinwiddie—guys that have done a great job marketing their shoes. But then you look at the aspect of guys like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry. Those guys have done a phenomenal job having their own marketing campaigns on YouTube and television. The NBPA has done a great job, and Michele Roberts has put her best foot forward to help us get behind it and help the players.

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Langston's partnership with Q4 has afforded him opportunities to build his brand in Asia. (Griffin Harrington)

CU360: With the growing market overseas, more guys are going to China and all over Asia, where there are massive basketball audiences. How do you see that working for you with Q4 to really grow your brand globally?

LG: I feel like right now with Q4, we're trying to leave that mark. Dwyane Wade has done a great job with Li-Ning. You think of the big names, you think of Nike, adidas, Puma. Everybody has to do a European trip. They have to go over to China. They have to go over to different countries just to be a part of the culture over there. And with Q4, I think that's what the biggest advantage for us is. We're selling them over there, first and foremost. I'll like get so many Instagram messages and tweets that people are, like, "Hey man, how are your shoes?" It's always fun to, like, see those fans interacting with us and really buying into the shoes.

CU360: Have you had any fun moments during your travels to Europe or Asia where you saw people wearing Langston Galloway jerseys?

LG: We were in Beijing and we went to crash a court. And it wasn't my jersey, but it was a fan out of nowhere with a Detroit Pistons shirt on. He said he was there just to see me. It was pretty cool and I was, like, "Wow." Word travels that you're with a company, you're going over here and they're saying you're showing up that day. And they're, like, "I'm gonna be there. I'm gonna go show up and show my support." So it's always cool to see that love all the way across the water.

CU360: Talk me through the best-case scenario of what LG Kicks looks like 10 years from now. What's the dream?

LG: I think LG Kicks is like a having a sneaker store, probably a consignment store or somewhere along the lines. And then, so many people I've been in contact about trying to figure out a way to just grow the brand. My YouTube channel has been really successful. And it's a lot of different moving pieces. But, slowly but surely, it's all coming together. Just taking its time. And that's the main thing I've heard from going over to Milan this summer and hearing about the business side of it all—you’ve got to be patient. 'Cause if not, it's not gonna work out the way you want it. Can't ever rush success.

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Langston spent time in Milan learning about business as part of an NBPA program this summer. (Griffin Harrington)

CU360: I know you're also into broadcasting. Tell me about what else you're into off the court.

LG: I've done a number of things this summer to really help my resume. I did the International Business Academy with the NBPA, going over to Milan and just trying to learn how I can grow my brand. If you don't know LG Kicks, it's like my logo, my signature. And then also too, LG Kicks is my Instagram page, and you got LG Kicks TV, which is my YouTube page. Slowly but surely, just growing my brand with being able to one day create my own shoe and put that into fruition. And I think that'd be the day when I'm, like, "This is just something that's a whole ‘nother level that I would've never thought."

And going over there [to Milan], being able to like meet the Common Projects owner, Flavio [Girolami], and meet Marcelo Burlon, the owner of County of Milan. Just meeting different owners of different companies, and knowing the pros and cons of different companies, it was pretty cool to see that. You learn where they started and where they're at now. So that was a big jump. 

And then I'm also doing a couple of job shadowing opportunities. I went to TNT in Atlanta. We did a broadcast opportunity at TNT with Shaq and those guys, and being able to watch them during the playoff time, being able to watch them talk about the games, the research they have to do behind closed doors to lead up and talk about those different categories. It's pretty intense.

And then I've done a couple of tech things this summer as well. I went out to San Francisco; we did the Players Tech Summit, which is pretty cool with Andre Iguodala. He's done a great job. Him and Rudy Thomas, they've done a great job with growing that whole brand of connecting with Bloomberg and being able to bring in the players so that they can see, like, "All right, what investments can I lean towards and learn from?" Because it's a lot of things you can dive into, especially while you're playing. It's a great opportunity to try to turn over all the rocks. You don't know what's going to help you out in the long run.

And that's what I'm doing right now, just trying to have my foot in a little bit of everything. But the main thing, broadcasting has been my number one goal. But at the same time, it's like, "Hey, I can go with LG kicks and see where I can take that." So it's been a cool summer.

CU360: Is there a player you look up to who is doing really well in business and you want to emulate?

LG: Andre Iguodala. He's done a great job with what he was given and where he's taken it now. You look at Chauncey Billups. He's another guy that's done a great job with his brand. I noticed a numerous amount of guys that's probably done some big things. It's just so many to name, but those are just two names that stick out to me in what they've done. So it's going to be pretty cool going forward. Once I get my foot in more stuff, guys come out, like, "Oh man, I didn't know you were doing this and this—let's connect." So it'll be cool once I get there down the road, big time.

 

On-site reporting by CloseUp360 Founder and President Jared Zwerling.

Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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