NBA Stylist Courtney Mays Elevates Black Men and Women Through Fashion

Sports Illustrated and Empower Onyx are shining the spotlight on the diverse journeys of women of color in sports – from veteran athletes to rising stars, coaches, executives and more – in the series, Elle-evate: 100 influential black women in sport.

Stylist, designer and consultant Courtney Mays is the visionary behind some of the best dressed players in the NBA. Today — thanks to Mays and the mentors she credits before her, like Rachel Johnson, stylist to LeBron James — the convergence of style and sport takes place in the tunnels of arenas around the league, game after game.

“I think Rachel really pioneered the idea that the tunnel could be that five-second track,” says Mays. Players no longer arrive with their heads down in sweatpants or ill-fitting suits; The NBA player’s new pre-game uniform consists of luxury brands, tailored suits and intentionally styled apparel. But it’s not just about showing off or competing for the best dressed player – the weekly catwalk is about letting the world know that there’s something to say that’s stronger and more impactful than any three-pointer or triple-double shot.

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