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Cameron Thomas walked across the NBA draft stage in style thanks to a Norcom High grad

Virginian-Pilot
Virginian-Pilot
 2021-07-30

Michael Fletcher isn’t a basketball player, but his talent was featured at the NBA draft Thursday night in front of a nationwide audience.

Fletcher, a Norcom High grad, designed Cameron Thomas’ sports coat for the draft. Thomas, from Chesapeake, was drafted by the Brooklyn Nets with the 27th overall pick.

“I saw it (Wednesday),” Thomas said about the jacket. “It’s real nice.”

So when his name was called, Thomas sported his red sports coat as he walked across the stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Then, while being interviewed on ESPN, he opened his jacket to reveal a tribute to the late NBA great Kobe Bryant, Thomas’ favorite player.

“When I go to design things, I like to look at the process and what’s the story,” Fletcher, 29, said. “I know Cam is a big fan of Kobe, so I wanted to create a piece that sums up Kobe, his life and his accolades that will help inspire Cam.”

The inside of the jacket showed Bryant walking into a tunnel with his jersey numbers 24 and 8 on the ground. The jacket also had many of Bryant’s accolades: his five NBA championships, the MVP trophies, NBA Finals award and Academy Award.

“It was a collage of all of these different awards,” Fletcher said. “This whole piece was just a representation of Mamba mentality, Kobe and what he was able to achieve, and greatness. That was the inspiration behind it.

“And as long as Cam likes it, that’s all that’s important,” he added. “Everybody won’t like everything that you make. But as long as he likes it, that’s all that matters.”

Thomas and Fletcher hooked up thanks to Thomas’ sister, Shaniece Collins.

“My sister was looking for people to do something with my jacket,” Thomas said. “She found him. And I didn’t even know he was from the 757. So my sister put me on to him, and for him to be from the 757 is even more cool. It’s been real cool to work with him, and I definitely look forward to working with him in the future.”

Fletcher said he received a private direct message from Collins. She wanted to know if he could design a special jacket for her brother for the draft.

Fletcher, based in Los Angeles, went right to work.

It also helped that Collins had seen some of Fletcher’s previous work, including a special jacket for NBA great Dwyane Wade.

“She saw me do a jacket for D-Wade back in 2019 when he was retiring,” Fletcher said. “I made a jacket with all of his numbers in it and all of the jerseys he’s ever worn.”

Fletcher has come a long way from high school days when he designed a cardigan sweater — with cartoon characters on it — for his prom instead of a suit like everyone else.

He said he was inspired by many teachers at Norcom to follow his dream, including technology teacher Anna-Lisa Wanack and art teacher Patrick Bullock.

“She would keep me back after school and teach me graphic design and how to use the programs,” he said about Wanack. “She showed me the different things you could do and the kind of career you could have. Then she would put me in citywide competitions.”

Wanack said Fletcher was always eager to learn.

“He would stay after class to learn how to use graphic software programs,” she said. “He was dedicated to his art and truly showed a passion early on.”

Fletcher said Bullock showed him how to screen-print T-shirts and how the whole the apparel-making business went.

“It went from me customizing my own stuff, to Mrs. Wanack teaching me how to use the computer to Mr. Bullock teaching me how to produce my stuff,” said Fletcher, who has no formal training in the arts. “That led to me branching out.”

He got his first break as a senior at Old Dominion University when a friend asked him to create a jacket for rapper, producer and business mogul Sean Combs.

Combs wore the jacket in his documentary “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A Bad Boy Story.”

“He’s like an icon. He was always somebody that I wanted to meet,” Fletcher said. “So when I met him and actually made it and saw him wearing it, I realized that I must be good enough to work at that level. It was a sign from God that I’m supposed to be doing this.”

That has led Fletcher, who is based in Los Angeles, to many more opportunities. He’s worked with many entertainers and athletes, including rapper Master P, Vogue Italia, Nike, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb.

“Hopefully this will inspire other young Black designers to say, ‘Hey, I can do this, too,’” he said.

To see more of Fletcher’s work , you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @mxatrx

Larry Rubama, 757-575-6449, larry.rubama@pilotonline.com

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