Should you ever meet your heroes? You expose yourself to real disappointment when someone turns out to be a totally different person than you thought, but a chance connection with a star can pay dividends. Just ask Riley Morrison.
This sports fanatic ran into a big inequality issue when she went to buy some gear. Riley committed herself to doing whatever she could to right this wrong, so she reached out to her sport’s idol about the issue — but would her hero willingly lend a hand to just a kid?
At 9 years old, Riley Morrison from Napa, California, had already fallen in love with sports. In 2018, her love for one team — and one player in particular — catapulted her into the national spotlight.
You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger basketball fan than Riley. She had a hoop at home she took shots on — often by herself, rain or shine — and played point guard for her school’s team.
Living in northern California, Riley came to love watching her Golden State Warriors thrash their NBA competition. She and her dad Chris rarely ever missed a game, whether they watched on TV or cheered in person at the Warrior’s Oracle Arena.
And for a student and lover of basketball, the Warriors were a delight to watch. As someone who wanted to perfect her point guard game, Riley had one player she admired most…
Steph Curry! The Warriors’ star point guard has collected a trophy case full of NBA championships and MVP awards. He’s arguably the most exciting player in basketball — unless you’re a LeBron James fan, of course.
Watching the Warriors star tear up the court, Riley wanted to be just like Steph. She couldn’t play like him just yet — that would take a growth spurt and a lot more practice — but there was one way she could mimic her idol’s game.
In November of 2018, she decided to step into Steph’s shoes (literally). Riley had her heart set on a pair of his signature kicks, the Icon Curry 5 sneakers produced by the sporting gear giant Under Armour. Unfortunately, her heart broke later that day.
Seeing that the online store hawked all kinds of Curry swag, Riley eagerly scrolled through the website. It sold tons of different colors and patterns of the Curry 5’s, but Riley noticed a disappointing detail.
The shoe variety ended with color and pattern. Riley could not find a single pair of the shoes in girls’ sizes. This revelation was tough for the 9-year-old to swallow.
Riley only wanted to emulate her idol by buying his sneakers, and yet she couldn’t — all because of her gender. Sure, Riley knew this wasn’t the worst discrimination women had faced, but it seemed unthinkable in this day and age.
Meanwhile, even the dopiest boy basketball players could get their hands on any pair of shoes they wanted. Riley realized that other girls must have found themselves in the same predicament. She decided to do something about it.
In a gutsy move, Riley chose to go straight to the man himself. She penned a heartfelt letter to Steph Curry detailing her experience and asking for a change. As a big fan, she felt confident that Curry would agree with her based on his personal background.
Riley’s letter read like this: “Dear Stephen Curry. My name is Riley (just like your daughter)…I asked my dad to buy me the new Curry 5s because I am starting a new basketball season).” Clearly, she’d done her research!
Wayne Freedman / Twitter
For one thing, Steph is a proud father to two daughters, one of whom does indeed share Riley’s name! The basketball phenom often brings them to NBA events, and he has publicly advocated for a better future for girls their age. Her letter continued.
NBA / Andrew Bernstein
“I visited the website,” she wrote. “And was disappointed there were no Curry 5s for sale under the girl’s section. However, they did have them for sale under the boy’s section, even to customize.” She wasn’t finished.
“I know you support girl athletes because you have two daughters and you host an all-girls basketball camp.” She signed off with a simple note: “Girls want to rock the Curry 5s, too.”
Clearly, Riley understood her audience perfectly. Curry had once said, “I want [my daughters] to grow up in a world where their gender does not feel like a rulebook for what they should think, or be, or do. And I want them to grow up believing that they can dream big, and strive for careers where they’ll be treated fairly.”
That’s why Steph indeed founded an all-girls basketball camp. Always looking to provide young women with more opportunities to succeed, he is an athlete who uses his public platform for good. But would he even read some random fan letter?
As luck would have it, Riley’s letter made it on to social media channels; there, people sympathetic to Riley’s troubles helped push the letter to Steph’s various pages.
Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports
That was how Stephen Curry, busy as he was in the thick of an NBA season, received Riley’s letter. He read the hand-written letter over and digested all it had to say.
And he was completely mortified about his shoes’ biased availability. It seemed Riley was right to suspect that her idol really did care about the women’s issues he fought so hard for! Steph knew he had to do something.
Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group
He called up his management, and they discussed how to right this biased wrong. A few moments on the phone was all it took for the NBA superstar to come up with the perfect solution to Riley’s dilemma…
“We are correcting this now!” Steph said before sitting down with some pen and paper of his own. This way, he could deliver a truly personal response to Riley.
Still in a funk a couple days later, Riley slunk back home from school. However, her parents dropped a huge surprise on her. A smile quickly returned to Riley’s face as she read over a handwritten response from Steph Curry.
In the letter, the Warriors phenom said that he was working with Under Armour to correct the sizing issue, and he thanked Riley for bringing the issue to his attention. He also wanted to reward his super-fan for taking such a bold stand.
Twitter / Steph Curry
Steph promised Riley that he’d send her a pair of Curry 5s very soon, but he didn’t stop there. He also pledged that Riley would be one of the first kids in the world to get the Steph Curry 6s, his latest shoe model. Nobody on Earth owned it yet!
What a huge victory for Riley! With the sick kicks in hand and the assurance that Curry’s shoes would be available in all sizes, she could have rested easy. But Steph then posed an unexpected question for her.
To cap it all off, he asked Riley to join him on court in Oakland for International Women’s Day! The Warriors would celebrate girl power and the unifying nature of sports during that game. Steph couldn’t think of any better representative than the brave nine-year-old.
Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon
Of course, Riley accepted the invitation without a second thought. She couldn’t have expected such a huge response from her letter, but she sure felt glad she went through with it. And not just for herself, but for all girls.
Steph certainly got a lot of satisfaction from the experience too. Riley allowed him to make a real difference for his family and women everywhere. Steph has heard tons of supporters applaud him over the years. But this time around, the superstar was clapping for a fan.