Many names come to mind when you think of the Portland Trailblazers:: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Head Coach Terry Stotts. The “Greats,” such as Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton, and Scottie Pippen. Portland is well known for their famous players, and tragic playoff losses, but the city has retained its love for basketball throughout the years, and Lillard jerseys are still worn by hundreds and hundreds of Portlanders. Basketball is an extremely popular thing in this city, and the universal love for it can be reflected by the newest store on Hawthorne, Ball Was Life, a basketball hobby/clothing and shoe store. Air Jordan 1s, vintage Rodman posters, VHS tapes of Blazers games, and jerseys upon jerseys. That’s what you see when you walk into Ball Was Life. Though the outside blends in with the busy street stores and foot traffic, the inside is a basketball lover’s dream, with every wall covered in pictures, shoes, toys and cards, mostly Blazers items. Opened on Oct 9, Ball Was Life attracted a large number of people to it with its variety of rare t-shirts, jerseys, and basketball shoes, directed at all people, whether you play the sport or just like to watch. Owner and basketball lover Troy Douglass had a vision that was brought to life on Hawthorne, and aims to awaken the love of basketball in everyone that comes in.
A basketball player himself, Troy hoped that his store would be influential to anyone walking by who was interested in basketball. “The idea was for the shop to be everything and anything basketball. Shoes are a big part of the game, look good, feel good, play good, of course apparel, anything off and on the court. Anything that has to do about basketball, I wanted it to be in here,” Douglass shared. “Between 33rd and 39th of Hawthorne, it’s always been a hotspot where people like to walk, and vintage is a big thing here, and we definitely cross over into vintage, in the basketball sector, so that’s what we wanted to do. I wanted to provide shoes that are easy and accessible, and I didn’t want to compete with the big shops around here, but I know what I know, which is basketball.” Troy shares how the artwork on the floor at the shop represents the rise and fall of the playing ability of an average basketball player. “It’s who I am since birth, and it’s a game that I love, and even the history of basketball, I know pretty well. It’s just something I am truly passionate about and I decided to wrap this business around that and make this business our own.”
After the end of the NBA finals, and with the virus prohibiting a lot of basketball being played, there seemed to be a shortage of basketball in Portland, and the store is a perfect place to get a break from all the madness that might be going on around you. “Thankfully with not being like a food establishment, so besides of course wearing a mask, there’s not a lot of heavy regulations on COVID. I think during this pandemic time period, our shop has provided an escape from what the norm is now of 2020,” Troy said.
If you have ever been to the store Cultural Blends, located at the Lloyd Center, you have seen some of Troy Douglass’ work, but Ball Was Life is focusing only on the sport. If you’re not into basketball, the store is a great place to maybe become interested, or at least acquaint yourself with its items. “It’s definitely a space for community. For younger folks looking for shoes or jerseys, for older folks that could enjoy remembering Shawn Kemp when he played for the Blazers, it’s definitely for everybody.”
The message behind Ball Was Life was to spark the love of basketball in anyone passing by, and create the journey of pursuing that love, as shared by Douglass, when talking about the name. Although having the name thought of before, he decided to create something with it, and states the meaning of it representing the journey of a basketball player. “As I ascend into my 30’s, and probably getting past my prime, I still love the game and especially vintage stuff, so Ball Was Life is kind of like an homage to that. Ball Was Life tells the story of basketball in its entirety from when you start to when you finish. When you start your basketball career, you’re inspired by the Greats, like Jordan and Kobe, and as you near the end of physical playing, you get to a point in your life when really all you want to do is inspire others to love basketball as much as you do. Ball Was Life is basically this story of basketball of someone who is maybe past their prime.”
The store has a wide variety of shoes, with two different walls full of used and new ones, so if you’re looking for a place to sell your rare Air Jordans that might be too small, Ball Was Life is a great place to start. Any person walking by with a passion for basketball is welcome, and if you don’t, still check the place out. The people there are incredibly kind and knowledgeable, and it’s really a positive place.
In response to the question asking Douglass for any message he has for the kids at Franklin, he shares “It’s really a place for everybody. I know that we have been selling a lot of things for Christmas, so if you need a gift for dad, come on by.”