Centrowitz's gold medal results in free baby shoes at AAMC

Nike gave away 70 limited edition baby shoes Wednesday in honor of Anne Arundel native Matt Centrowitz' Olympic Gold Medal. (Ulysses Munoz / BSMG)

When Van Watts' daughter was born on Kobe Bryant's birthday, he hoped she would grow up playing sports.

But receiving the Matt Centrowitz-inspired Nike shoes made it official.


"She has to," the new father said about his daughter's budding sports career.

Sydney Watts, who was born Tuesday at Anne Arundel Medical Center, was one of 70 newborns to receive baby shoes in honor of the Arnold native's gold medal win.


Centrowitz, a Broadneck High School alumnus, became the first American in more than 100 years to win gold in the 1,500 meters at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Representatives from the Nike Factory Store in Arundel Mills delivered the shoes to the hospital Wednesday. The shoes won't be sold publicly, and were given to the first 70 babies born this week.

The shoes, which are smaller than an adult's palm, are green with an orange Nike logo — representing the colors of the Rio Olympics. Centrowitz wasn't there to present the shoes. He's competing in Switzerland.

Nike plans to deliver the baby shoes to areas where several of the U.S. gold medal winners are from. A hospital in Washington, D.C., will also receive the shoes, since U.S. Olympic basketball player Kevin Durant grew up in the area.

Watts, who describes himself as a Nike "snob," was wearing red, black and white Nikes when he received the shoes. He joked his daughter's closet will be filled with only Nike shoes.

Nike's gesture was appreciated.

"It's incredible," said Watts, who lives in Odenton with his wife, SaMonna. "This one tops (Sydney's birth) off."

When the nurses saw the shoes for the first time, many of them squealed with excitement. When Betsey Lewis Snow, senior director of women and children's services, opened the small shoe box, she put her hand over her heart and choked up with emotion.

"Every baby born is a magical moment; this is an Olympic moment," she said.

Each box was wrapped and included a special message from Nike. When the Nike representative read the message to the Watts, he also got choked up and passed it to a nurse to finish reading.

The note read: "It all starts now. 26 years ago, it started in Arnold for a little champ just like you. And in Rio Matt Centrowitz conquered the world. Maybe, someday, that could be you. Or maybe you'll choose to do something else.

"There really are no limits to your potential."

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