EUGENE, Ore. -- University of Oregon senior Zachary Gonzales has close to 300 pairs of sneakers.
“Every shoe has a story," Gonzales said.
One story that comes to mind is the ones told through the Oregon green Jordan's he wore during last year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
"I wore this shoe to every game starting in Las Vegas when we had to win four games in a row," Gonzales said. "When I think of this shoe, I think of the great run we made.”
But there is another story. One hidden between the leather and the laces.
Gonzales posted through a sneaker vlog called the DNA Show admitting he was suffering from depression. That’s when he first announced his struggle.
“You feel alone," Gonzales said. "You can’t get out of bed. It’s a dark place.”
It was their natural love for sneakers that led the Oregon men’s basketball team to embrace Gonzales and make him a friend of the program, helping him escape from that dark place.
“It’s definitely helped me fight that fight and I’ve met some really great people through it," Gonzales said. "I talk to them every day. They’re blowing me up always talking about kicks like ‘Hey when is this coming out?’ or they want to know ‘Hey what shoes you guys get?’ It’s been good.”
The coronavirus outbreak has put everything on hold. There are stories in every pair of Gonzales's sneakers. Gonzales says they are stories that can help people get through these recent tough times, like his Oregon Nike Air Force 1's.
“The women’s basketball team and men’s basketball team got these before the Pac-12 Tournaments," Gonzales said. "The reason I would say this shoe, we got it at a difficult time if you think about the year 2020 with the Kobe thing and the coronavirus. When I think of going through hard times I think of this shoe.”
Just like his shoes, Gonzales, as with all of us, are taking life one step at a time.
“I’m not going to give up," Gonzales said. "I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t. I’m going to make it through this. I know also, in the other direction, as a country, I know we’ll make it through this as well.”