I grew up in Miami and moved to Boston when I was 12. In middle school, I was the class clown. But my favorite teacher knew I was also an artist. At graduation, she handed me an illustration book and told me “Never stop drawing.”
I was a big basketball fan. I thought I was going to the NBA. I chose to go to Charlestown High School because the basketball team won lots of championships. Sophomore year, I tried out for the team and got cut. I had read that Michael Jordan got cut his sophomore year and then the following summer he grew 5 inches. I didn’t grow 5 inches and my junior year I got cut again. I played football. Charlestown was the first place where I felt I belonged. [At basketball games,] I used to sit in the bleachers with my illustration book and sketch designs for throwback jerseys. I fantasized about being on the team, drawing myself wearing a Charlestown jersey. After graduating in 2005, I started a clothing line with a friend. We called it Mathmatik. We liked math, but wanted to make the name a little more hip-hop. My cousin Phil [Jean] came on in 2011, and we got serious about building Mathmatik Athletics, focusing on sports apparel.
We started by designing uniforms for the Brighton High [boys basketball] team. We now have customers on Cape Cod, in Arizona, even the Applied Positive Psychology graduate program at UPenn. The biggest thrill was getting the account to design uniforms for Charlestown High. In the fall, we’ll be working with Charlestown students to open and run a school store there. It’s like watching the pages of my notebook come to life.
SLAM-DUNK Both teams in the “Roxbury vs. Dorchester” all-star basketball game will wear Mathmatik uniforms. June 17, 5:30 p.m., Mildred Avenue Community Center. $10 for adults, $5 for teens, and free for 12 and under.