By J. Michael Falgoust, USA TODAY
Take a look at the wrist of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin and you may see something you haven’t before. Lin is sporting wristbands from Active Faith, a faith-based apparel company started former professional basketball player Lanny Smith and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver.
It was Smith’s idea and Tolliver, a finance graduate from Creighton who also owns various investment properties, partnered with him. They recently received the first shipment of men’s and women’s athletic wear. Tolliver and Smith are members of the Houston-based Lakewood Church, which draws 40,000 to 50,000 attendees per week under pastor Joel Osteen.
Lakewood has an Active Faith display in its stores. The only other place items can be purchased is at MyActiveFaith.com, which was re-launched this weekend, and contact can be made via Twitter @Active_Faith. In Jesus Name I Play bands can be purchased for $3. Among other items for sale: CrossFit shirts are $26, women’s yoga tights are $30 and hoodies are $45.
Lin was on board with wearing the brand before his newfound stardom. The guard has led the Knicks to seven wins in the past eight games going into Sunday’s game against Dallas.
A former D-League teammate, Patrick Ewing Jr., introduced him to Active Faith.
“We had a relationship before this whole thing blew up the way it did,” Smith says. “With him being so open about his faith it matches up perfectly.”
“Me and Steph are really good friends. We went to each other’s weddings. Before we do venture capitalists we’re reaching out to family and friends that would want to get involved financially,” Tolliver says.
Smith says he sent Lin another shipment of gear last week, which he has shares with others.
Many NBA players have deals with shoe companies that may preclude them from endorsing other brands. But they can wear wristbands to show support. According to Smith, those players wearing the bands include Donte Greene of the Sacramento Kings, Carl Landry of the New Orleans Hornets, John Lucas III of the Chicago Bulls, DeAndre Jordan and Randy Foye of the Los Angeles Clippers, Quentin Richardson of the Orlando Magic, Brian Cardinal of the Dallas Mavericks and Landry Fields of the Knicks.
“It’s a great way to blend faith and sports for me. You try to bridge that gap,” says Curry. “I don’t think God has any say in who’s winning, who’s losing, but for blessing us with the ability to play any sport and use that as a tool that’s huge. That’s a way to mesh those two ideas together and reach a lot of people.”
Tolliver plans to tap other churches and Christian stores, but emphasizes that Active Faith can be inclusive of all religions.
“We’re taking it slow. This is our first time through. It’s not like we’re experienced with any type of apparel. We’re doing a lot of research and making sure we do it the right way,” Tolliver says. “We’re more about being open, you being active in your faith. We respect Muslims, all the different religions out there. We just want people to be about it. That’s what’s most important to us.”