Editor’s Note: This story has been edited to correctly reflect that Arik Armstead has previously worked with Mercy Housing California.
ELK GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) — One Elk Grove artist got the chance to make some special cleats for 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead.
Armstead went to school at Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, finetuning his football skills for four years, and he still has ties in the area.
When the “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign came up, one of Armstead’s local friends connected him to Kevin Grey Jr., a shoe customizer.
When Grey was told an NFL player needed some custom cleats, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I was like, ‘Wait, you got me a 49er?!’ That was the biggest, craziest thing that ever happened,” Grey said.
Grey has been customizing shoes for a few years now and had made dozens of pairs, but nothing quite as big as a commission from an NFL player.
Armstead, who has played for the 49ers since 2015, is a Sacramento County native who takes pride in having grown up in the area.
“Doing a pair of shoes for somebody who’s from here, and he’s doing a lot of stuff for the community, that stuff is dope and inspiring,” Grey explained.
Armstead, who is known for giving back to the community, has a nonprofit called Armstead Academic Project.
The nonprofit focuses on making sure every student has access to a quality education no matter where they live.
Armstead also worked with Mercy Housing California and his off-the-field efforts are being recognized for the second year in a row.
He’s been nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, honoring a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field where he represents Northern California and 49ers faithful.
On Saturday night, FOX40 met with Grey’s family in an Elk Grove neighborhood, where they got together to cheer on the team in their playoff matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Grey said his family has been tied to the 49ers for a long time and he’s grateful to be tied to the team as well.
“My grandpa and my uncles were 49er die-hard fans, so I really wish that they were still here right now, honestly, but I’m doing this for them,” Grey said.
Grey said he’ll work with anyone, and he wants to inspire others to paint shoes and wants the 49ers to keep winning.