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CHICAGO – As a person who grew up playing the game and watching it, the moment was a bit surreal.

On Saturday, Chicago-native Michael Horton’s company and foundation named “Hoop ‘Til it Hurts” announced a partnership with Skechers to produce a kid’s basketball footwear collection. They celebrated the occasion with a clinic at Stanton Park gym in Chicago, teaching kids the game of basketball to kick off the partnership.

“To come from where I came from as a basketball player and the humble beginnings that I had as a youth to actually have a shoe deal, it makes me feel really excited,” said Horton of the partnership with Skechers. “Just to see the young people excited about something that I was a part of the creation, that motivates me to want to do more to help young people.”

That’s been the driving force behind “Hoop ‘Til it Hurts” since it was founded in the 1990s, when Horton was selling T-Shirts out of his car in the early days of the business. The name itself was actually from a slogan that the former basketball player created initially for a tattoo which he got in 1996.

As he grew the company, Horton continued to coach youth basketball teams, using his company to provide uniforms to the players in his community. Reaching out to kids meant a lot to Horton, who grew up in Cabrini Green, played high school basketball at Sullivan High School in Rogers Park before attending Concordia College in Minnesota.

“Over the years, I really thought I want to support young people because people supported me as a young basketball player,” said Horton.

Those efforts have continued over the years, and after stopping coaching travel basketball in 2018 he started the “Hoop ‘Til It Hurts” foundation. Horton does this as he remains a counselor and varsity basketball coach at Wells Community High School in Chicago.

Saturday was another major moment for the company as the deal with Skechers came to be, yet the goal remains the same even as the brand and its efforts continue to grow.

“Our focus is them in the game because the more people that they meet while being associated with the game can help them figure out what they want to do in life,” said Horton.

That’s certainly the case for this Chicago native, who found his path to help others thanks to an idea over 25 years ago.

You can learn more about “Hoop ‘Til It Hurts” by clicking here.