Las Vegas Aces center A’ja Wilson (22) during a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)

On Saturday May 11, Las Vegas Aces Center A’ja Wilson earned her long awaited opportunity with Nike. Nike announced that Wilson will headline the company in 2025 with her first-ever signature sneaker – the A’One. Not only will Wilson represent women’s basketball for Nike, but she will also be the face of the WNBA for women with their own signature sneaker line. Nike has endorsed the two-time MVP and Olympic gold medalist for around seven years.

Wilson joins Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu from the New York Liberty, who have their own signature shoe lines. Wilson is also set to be the first Black woman to lead her own Nike basketball shoe line in 22 years. She follows Sheryl Swoopes whose last model, the Air Swoopes Premier, came out in 2002. Wilson is the first Black WNBA player to have a signature shoe since 2010.  Now that former WNBA All-Star Candace Parker retired, Wilson is currently the only Black woman in the WNBA with her own shoe line.

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The process of receiving a shoe from Nike took longer than indicated, but Wilson is beyond grateful and proud of her accomplishment.

“It did take a moment — probably longer than what I wanted, probably longer than what a lot of people wanted — but we’re here now, and that’s what truly matters — to just continue pushing the needle,” she told Andscape.

With Wilson having her own shoe, she is following in the footsteps of her former college coach and mentor Dawn Staley. Twenty-five years ago, Nike launched the Air Zoom S5, the initial signature shoe for Staley, just before she started her first season in the WNBA. Staley had already spent three years playing in the American Basketball League prior to playing in the WNBA. Similar to Wilson, Staley teamed up with Nike in 1995 and played four professional seasons before her signature shoe was released in January 1999. Staley believes the A’One will have a better outcome than her creation, according to Andscape.

Las Vegas Aces’ A’ja Wilson, of Team Wilson, drives against New York Liberty’s Breanna Stewart, of Team Stewart, during the first half of the 2023 All Star Game (AP Photo/John Locher)

“A’ja is going to have a better shoe because she’s a two-time WNBA champion,” Staley said. “She’s going to have a better shoe because she’s a two-time Olympian now. You need elements of storytelling in a shoe, from playing to also your background and upbringing. So, I think the longer the story, the better the shoe”.

At the University of South Carolina, Wilson is remembered as one of the best players to come out of the program. Wilson holds the record for points in a career, blocked shots, blocked shots averaged, free throws made, and free throw attempts along with many more accolades. In 2018 she was drafted number one overall by the Aces and two years later won WNBA MVP.  Wilson guided Las Vegas to their first-ever championship win, a milestone she achieved again in 2023, during which she also earned Finals MVP.

The 27-year-old star is astonished and happy to inspire women like herself to chase their dreams in whatever they choose to do, she told CBS News.

“I hope when girls wear this shoe, they believe in themselves,” Wilson said. “I want them to hopefully lace them up, feel powerful and understand that nobody can stop them from their dreams. Set those goals high. Go get them — that’s the biggest thing.”