The Muhammad Ali-inspired cleats that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown were forced to remove during Sunday’s game appear to be headed to Central High School.
Central athletic director Ryan Bringhurst, via the @loucentralsport account, started a Twitter campaign over the weekend encouraging Brown to donate the cleats to Central High, which is Ali’s alma mater.
Brown responded Tuesday with a Tweet reading, “Would be an honor! So much respect for The Greatest!! I need to clean them up, but DM me the address.”
Here is a picture of the cleats:
Brown’s decision to wear the cleats and donate them was met with “pure joy” by Biaggio Ali-Walsh, one of Ali’s grandsons. Ali-Walsh is a star high school running back committed to Cal who plays for top-ranked Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
“I was happy and proud to see someone like Antonio Brown to support my grandfather with those beautiful cleats,” Ali-Walsh said. “The gesture was great and for him to donate them to a Central High School in Louisville is very generous. I can say I’m an Antonio Brown fan now.”
Bringhurst said he hasn’t heard from Brown, except through Twitter, but is hopeful the cleats will arrive at Central soon. He said the school plans to display the cleats in its trophy case.
“It’s so great for our kids and our school,” Bringhurst said. “Obviously being the school of Muhammad Ali means so much to our school and our community. To have something like that from a current NFL player is really cool.
“I think it will mean a lot to our kids to walk by the trophy case and see something like that that is real to them. We have items from Lenny Lyles and Muhammad Ali, but sometimes kids might not put that all together because of the age they are. But with Antonio Brown, any of our athletes here know who Antonio Brown is. To have that extra connection is really cool.”
Brown was forced to remove the cleats after two drives during Sunday’s game against the New York Jets because they did not meet league uniform standards.
In the Steelers’ season opener, Brown wore blue shoes and was fined $9,000 because blue isn’t one of the Steelers’ base colors. Two weeks later he wore blue shoes with photos of his kids’ faces and was threatened with disqualification. He changed the shoes at halftime.
Last week Brown paid tribute to late golfer Arnold Palmer with cleats in the Steelers’ black and gold colors and was not fined.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.