Former Syracuse Orange men’s basketball guard Eric Devendorf has been unabashed in using his voice and his platform to create positive change in the community in recent years. He’s organized coat drives locally in Syracuse, he’s helped give away free shoes and haircuts to kids and he even worked to support the Flint water crisis back in 2016.
So, for those that have been following along, it wasn’t all that surprising to see Devendorf don a pair of custom Nike’s with the words “Black Lives Matter” and a sketch of George Floyd in The Basketball Tournament. The shoes were customized by Olivia Luciani, who has designed sneakers for Devendorf and other Syracuse stars such as Tyus Battle in the past, under her Laced By Liv brand.
Devendorf wanted to take the opportunity to voice his opinion with his shoes.
“It’s a lot of stuff going on in the world obviously, the injustice of Black people and I want people to know my stance,” Devendorf said following the game. “I think if you’re a decent human-being, you’ll see what’s going on. I wanted to put that out there and use my platform the right way. I wanted to make my stance and not be silent about what’s going on.”
Black Lives Matter— Laced By Liv (@LacedBy_Liv) July 6, 2020
kicks for @ED23HOOPS to rock for @BoeheimsArmy at @thetournament
1st game tmrw on ESPN. RIP to George Floyd and everyone else affected by police brutality & racial oppression. This is bigger than basketball!
IG: LacedBy_Livhttps://t.co/u1uIv1FZpb pic.twitter.com/nD9RIKdH9Y
Devendorf has been vocal in the past, utilizing his reach in the Syracuse community and at large. He backed up his voice with his play on Tuesday night, leading the Army to a win over Men of Mackey to the tune of 21 points and 3 steals.
When the Purdue alumni made a run in the third quarter and edged into the Boeheim’s Army lead, that’s when Devendorf took over. He got to the tin, converted with that infamous lefty finish at the rim and knocked down shots when his team needed it most.
Head coach Ryan Blackwell credited Devendorf for being in better shape than most pros. Devendorf said his plant-based diet, which he has observed over the past two to three years, allows him to move like he did in his 20s.
“I feel good, man. I really believe in that diet. It just helped me with soreness after the game, inflammation. I still feel like I’m able to move how I was able to move in my 20s.”
Devendorf was heard by his play on the court and made a statement off of it through his shoes and passion for basketball.
“He’s just one of those guys that’s, when he’s 50 years old, he’s still going to be competitive in the gym at the Y,” Blackwell said. “Probably in the 40 and over league, talking and getting technicals at 50 years old with his kids saying, ‘What’s wrong with my dad?’
“He’s just one of those guys,” Blackwell continued. “He’s just a gamer. He’s one of those guys you want to have on the team. He’s our heart and soul and our engine.”
Devendorf’s competitive spirit on the court endures. So too will his influence off the court.