CHICAGO — One of the best things to happen in Stephan Devroe's high school career was not making the Whitney Young boys basketball team.
After his unsuccessfully tryout, Devroe, then 16, became a manager for the Dolphins' national power girls hoops squad. He maintained his relationship with head coach Corry Irvin and other Dolphins personnel over the years, even while he attended Baylor University, and while he started his own fashion design company: Campus Love, which in part creates uniforms, socks, warmups and other gear for basketball teams.
"Kids dream of playing basketball at Whitney Young," Devroe said. "It didn't work out, but luckily Corry opened her arms."
And Devroe's first client became Whitney Young's girls team, for whom he designed uniforms this year after a few seasons of making their socks and other apparel.
"Every time I get an opportunity to create for them is a dream come true," said the South Shore resident, now 24. "Working with them is one of the coolest things in life."
Devroe also makes apparel for the De La Salle Institute's girls basketball team and socks for the Robert Morris University men's basketball squad. He's hoping to expand the Campus Love line to high schools on the South Side like Chicago Vocational, Bowen and Kenwood.
Devroe makes all apparel, with the exception of uniforms, himself at a factory in Roseland.
"He used to always tell us one day he would have his own company and would throw out ideas about what it would be," Irvin said. "I told him if he did, we would wear it. It's important to help your own for sure. I had no idea what they would look like or anything, but I trusted him."
Irvin also was a manager for Baylor's women's basketball team, and he's the sixth-grade boys basketball coach at Francis Parker School in Lincoln Park.
His love for design started at Whitney Young, where he took a graphic design class, and he's tried to mesh his love of hoops and fashion ever since.
Devroe said It was a "dream to get into Whitney Young in the first place" after a childhood in South Shore, a neighborhood plagued by shootings. He said he never takes the opportunity to design for granted, especially after losing two Whitney Young classmates to violent deaths. That includes Rodney Kyles, a rapper known as In Rod We Lust who was fatally stabbed in 2011, and Greg Tucker, a basketball standout who was fatally shot in Uptown this year.
A few weeks before Tucker was killed, he sent Devroe a text message that in part read: "It's really cool to see someone I've known for years doing something positive and something that he loves. That's some real stuff bro."
"Where I come from, I know how fortunate I am," Devroe said. "And Chicago is what means the most to me, and I want to be able to help the kids here by making them feel good about what they wear."
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