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Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud signed a sneaker deal with Converse, making her the first female basketball player to join the brand.
Cloud averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 assists for the Mystics in 2019 as they won their first WNBA championship. Her work away from the court also helped draw the attention of Converse.
The 28-year-old penned an essay (warning: link contains profanity) for The Players’ Tribune on May 30 in the wake of George Floyd’s killing while in police custody. Beyond demanding change to address police brutality and systemic racism, she called upon others to be more vocal and supportive of the cause.
“If you’re silent, I don’t f–k with you, period,” she said. “Because I’m just out here trying to stay alive. And your knee is on my neck.”
A native of Broomall, Pennsylvania, Cloud attended a protest in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Ronald Johnson, Converse’s general manager of global basketball, told the Washington Post‘s Kareem Copeland that Cloud’s activism was one reason the company wanted to sign her.
“Natasha Cloud’s recent piece is one of many examples of integrity, grace and strength she brings to the Converse team,” Johnson said. “We stand in solidarity with the black community, with our athletes, collaborators and our teammates, and we commit to act.”
According to Johnson, Converse also delayed the release of Cloud’s deal at her behest. The company donated $25,000 to a Philadelphia-area racial justice organization and plans to release a short film “featuring Cloud advocating for change.”