LITTLE ITALY — Lonzo Ball is having a career year in his first season with the Chicago Bulls. Now his famous family is headed to Chicago to celebrate.
Big Baller Brand, the apparel line started by LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s outspoken father, will host a pop-up on Sunday ahead of Monday’s matchup between Lonzo’s Bulls and brother LaMelo Ball’s Charlotte Hornets.
The pop-up will be 2-4 p.m. Sunday at Flee Club, 2221 W. Taylor St. in Tri-Taylor.
The full-line of Big Baller Brand shoes, hoodies and more will be available for purchase, including a new shirt commemorating “The Face-Off” between Lonzo and LaMelo.
LaVar Ball will be in attendance Sunday, with possible appearances from Lonzo and LaMelo.
“It’s the Big Baller, baby. I got to take this show out to Chi-Town,” LaVar Ball said in an Instagram post announcing the event. “It’s going down, Big Baller style. … I’m only in Chi-Town for a small amount of time.”
As the camera-loving father of three professional ballers (each representing one “B” in Big Baller Brand), LaVar Ball has become a celebrity loved by some and loathed by others. He’s publicly feuded with the likes of Michael Jordan, the Los Angeles Lakers and former President Donald Trump.
The Ball family drew Kardashian-style attention when Facebook gave them their own reality show, “Ball In The Family,” in 2017. Big Baller Brand made headlines that year after launching a Lonzo Ball signature shoe — retailing for $495. LaVar Ball has loudly and theatrically forged his own path for his three sons and said he would help them become NBA players by “speaking it into existence.”
Lonzo Ball had ups-and-downs during his years with the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, but has seemed to have found a fit with the Bulls. Sabrian “Boo” Sledge, a respected Chicago rapper turned sneaker shop co-owner of Flee Club, said LaVar Ball has been looking for a Chicago space for a pop-up since Lonzo signed with the Bulls this summer.
“This event will be the stamp of Zo being in Chicago,” Sledge said. “Lonzo will definitely be a fan favorite, if he’s not already. The Bulls are looking good, he’s playing at a high level. What he shows Chicago is that hard work. And that’s who we are — a blue collar, hardworking city.”
Sledge got connected with the Ball family when he tagged along with his friend, longtime Chicago Bulls barber Terrance “Razor Red” Wills, when he cut Lonzo’s hair before the team’s season-opener.
“We were just watching some Monday Night Football while he’s getting his haircut, just chopping it up. About life, about how they’re getting accustomed to Chicago,” Sledge said. “I think Zo now knows exactly who he is as a basketball player, as a person. That’s the vibe I got from him. Very cool dude, very chill, very smooth.”
Sledge says his West Side business is known for catering to a celebrity clientele. Flee Club has sold sneakers and designer streetwear to Chicago Bulls Patrick Williams and Derrick Jones Jr., as well as rappers Fabulous and Polo G.
As one-half of rap duo Boo & Gotti, Sledge rose to prominence himself for his 2001 Billboard Hot 100 hit “Fiesta (Remix),” which featured Jay-Z and R. Kelly. Sledge has also worked with “rap juggernauts” like Lil Wayne and Birdman.
Sledge, now 41, laid down his mic and picked up on kicks after the streaming era shifted the hip-hop industry. He started Flee Club with his childhood best friend, Darris “Gem Shoe” Kelly, and launched the business out of Kelly’s Maywood home. The duo opened up their first retail store in 2016.
Flee Club is the first business that the Ball family has partnered with in Chicago. Sledge calls LaVar “the head of the snake” and said the Big Baller patriarch was easy to work with.
“Big Baller Brand, it’s very authentic and homegrown. It’s family first. And that’s the same way with our brand,” Sledge said. “We’re representing the new wave. That’s what LaVar is trying to tell people, ‘Hey man, my sons, they’re going to be the new wave.’ And it may rub some people the wrong way, but he believed it.”
Sledge hopes Sunday’s pop-up is only an introduction to the Ball family tapping into Chicago.
“Once they see how this city embraces them, I think that’s going to open up a lot of doors,” Sledge said. “I’m trying to tell them, Chicago is a place you want a piece of real estate in.”
In his free time, Lonzo Ball has released several rap albums. Sledge is hoping the Chicago Bulls point guard will pull up on Sunday.
“I got a few bars for him,” Sledge said. “If he’s ready.”
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