At just 22 years old, Washington Wizards forward and Japanese National team star, Rui Hachimura, hasn’t even been playing basketball for a decade yet. After taking up hoops at age 13, it didn’t take long for Rui to fall in love with the game.
As his stardom grew, so did his home country’s admiration for him. Yet during his early childhood, Rui at times felt like an outsider because of his mixed heritage. Born half Japanese and half Beninese, Rui and his three younger siblings were the only Japanese-African children in his hometown of Toyama. That upbringing, and his pride in his heritage, continue to drive Rui on and off the court.
“I grew up in a small town that’s six hours away from Tokyo. My family was the only Black family in the city. When I grew up and started playing basketball, I started to gain more respect, but it was hard, especially for my brother and sisters. It was a different experience for us growing up.”
Following his Air Jordan XXXIV “Heritage” PE that released exclusively in Japan earlier this year, Rui’s Air Jordan XXXV “Warrior” PE continues to tell the story of his cultural pride and identity. The black and red colorway draws from the self-described warrior persona that Rui embodies on the court. This PE has premium suede, the all-new Eclipse Plate 2.0, and the Kanji-inspired Black Samurai logo designed by his mother.
“I love seeing my logo on it. It means Black Samurai. I grew up in Japan as a Black man and went through a lot of things. My logo is for my family and other mixed-race kids. I want to inspire those kids.”
Like all Jumpman family members, Rui’s feedback was essential to helping the design team create the Air Jordan XXXV, the fastest and most responsive game shoe ever. For Rui, the ultimate performance shoe comes down to comfort, speed, and protection.
“I move a lot, so I need a shoe that’s comfortable and light. The AJXXXV is very comfortable to wear, and it protects my ankles.”
Another key piece of design feedback from Jumpman athletes was a desire to bring back premium materials that were traditionally featured on classic Air Jordans. Rui noticed the addition of suede immediately.
“It reminds me of retro Air Jordans. I like the design a lot. I like the suede arch. I can even wear them outside with casual clothes.”
Now, preparing for what will be just his 10th season playing organized basketball, Rui’s family and culture continue to drive him, and his new Air Jordan XXXV serves as a perfect tribute to them.