Marcus Smart hasn’t sold a signature robe — yet.
Evan Turner inspired Smart to start wearing robes in 2015-16 and Smart began receiving them from fans, featuring his No. 36, DPOY and different brands as they saw him strolling around arenas in them. Maine Celtics guard Trey Davis, a University of Massachusetts Amherst alum and long-time Smart friend, aspired to and pitched Smart on creating their own clothing brand.
They created YGC Global, a reflection of Smart’s foundation efforts and Davis’ experience playing overseas, featuring hats, shirts, bags, sweatshirts and more. They hosted pop-up stores in September and December, and raffled off five signature Puma shoes with funds going toward Smart’s YGC Foundation.
“(Davis) actually went to school as a fashion major, so he was like, ‘listen man, I really want to do this with you,’” Smart told CelticsBlog/CLNS Media. “We’ve always talked about starting a clothing line and really just working in that aspect, trying to do something that he also likes, and he was like, ‘man, this is something I really want to do,’ and I’m like, OK, if this what you really want to do, I gave him a couple goals to reach and the pop-up was one of them. We had our first one this summer, and then this one he wanted to do again. He just really had creative (control) on it and he came up with this idea of, ‘let me do these designs, and I think these designs perfectly fit who you are, and it goes into the (YGC) foundation.’”
Smart focused in recent years on donating Smart Carts — mobile kits allowing children battling cancer to receive access to FaceTime and entertainment — to hospitals around New England. He wanted to gift them wherever they could, and sent a pair to Wisconsin Children’s Hospital as a gift to Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, a rival and friend.
YGC also donated carts to Dallas Children’s Hospital during the Celtics’ recent road trip and the clothing brand allowed Smart to draw new revenue and awareness toward the brand.
Smart recently became a spokesman for Be the Match for a similar reason, trying to increase the base of donors who qualify to give blood and bone marrow to Black people battling diseases like Sickle Cell and leukemia. He hosted Justice Brooks, a 19-year-old fan with sickle cell and searching for a donor, to a game this season.
“My goal really is just to get these Smart Carts in every hospital that we can,” Smart said. “It doesn’t matter where, to really get these kids and these siblings an escape from life that they’re going through. I think that’s more important than anything, just to be able to put a smile on these kid’s faces can change a lot and really help them in certain ways. It might not save their life, in a certain standpoint, for some of these kids, but for that moment, it takes the pain away ... we’ve also been doing raffles and stuff for people to win, little contests for us, we’ve got some shoes that we’ve made that we’re putting out there, just to really encourage people and educate people more about what’s going on in certain people’s lives, people you probably never hear about and voices that never get heard.”
Davis hopes to impact education too, and spoke to several educators in Boston during the recent pop-up about involving the brand in local schools. They’ll host more raffles beyond the one they drew on Tuesday from the holidays and keep finding ways to connect with fans. Davis, who’s played in Albania, Poland, Germany and Italy, signed with Maine after recovering from knee surgery and hopes to return overseas next season, but his proximity to Smart and the foundation allowed him to take a hands-on approach with organizing.
Aidan Marshall, a local designer and Celtics fan, helped create many of the concepts for the shirts, which incorporate Smart’s DPOY accolade and favorite colors. They also wanted to reflect Smart’s hustling style on the court, and give Celtics fans another way to represent him beyond his jersey. Smart and Davis speak daily, and share a love of chess that they’ve continued to bond over. They hope to host competitions with fans at their next event.
“It helps with your patience, your way of thinking, your creativity and being able to maneuver out of tough situations without being rattled or shook,” Smart said. “I was ecstatic (when I first beat Trey). I was taking out the pieces, he was talking trash, you know how it is. Everybody, no matter what you are, when you’re a competitor, no matter what sport, what game you play, you’re gonna compete, so he’s talking his trash and me being me, I don’t like it. So I had to continuously work until I finally beat him.”