Freestyle XVII: Sam David Phelps | OHSU Foundation
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Age: 14
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Diagnosis: Spina bifida
Shoe: LeBron 19

Sam David isn’t the kind of kid to back down from a challenge. Like his sister and fellow Freestyle designer Maylee, he was born with spina bifida. But that doesn’t stop him from being a force to be reckoned with on and off the basketball court. His goal is to play on the U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team, but until then, he continues to sharpen his game playing for the Portland WheelBlazers.

Beyond basketball, this outgoing, energetic boy loves building elaborate Lego sets and practicing adaptive archery. “I’ve even gotten a bulls-eye before!” he exclaimed proudly. While he’s extremely close with his family, he says his mom, Rebecca, is truly his hero. “Because I was adopted from China, I didn’t have a mom before,” he explained. “My mom is really kind and she’s always there to help my brothers and sisters whenever we need it.”

Sam David’s favorite athlete in the whole world is LeBron James, so needless to say, he was beyond thrilled to learn he would be designing one of King James’ signature shoes. “Actually, I was speechless!” he smiled.

Sam David's shoe

His take on the LeBron 19 brings the bling with metallic gold panels, lighting bolts and his very own sporty wheelchair logo. It also features a very special detail: Nike’s first-ever airbag pod, which encapsulates Sam’s initials, his birth year and his go-to mantra: Never Back Down. “I want to inspire people to never quit on their dreams,” he said. “If you set your mind to it, there’s no limit to what you can do.”

Sam David and his family moved to Portland from Mississippi so that he and his sister could get state-of-the-art care from OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, and Sam David says he’s so glad they did. “I was a little scared at first to meet all of my doctors and therapists,” he admitted. “But everyone has been so nice to me. I’m really thankful for all the time and energy they’ve taken to help me get better along my health journey.”

“I’m really thankful for all the time and energy they’ve taken to help me get better along my health journey.”

Sam David's Freestyle designs