A fashion show with ballers, a beat — and a message
Vernon Davis, Pierre Garçon, Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr. walk a runway to help end domestic violence
The mood was festive, the music was sexy and the crowd pumped. But while the pro athletes strutted and dabbed their way down a runway, everyone in the building knew the on-stage fun was for a deadly serious cause: ending domestic violence.
This year’s fundraising event held Dec. 9 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., for the nonprofit Becky’s Fund featured D.C.-area athletes, including Washington Redskins players Vernon Davis, Pierre Garcon, Chris Baker and Nick Sundberg, Washington Wizards stars Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ian Mahinmi, U.S. Women’s National Soccer team’s Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and Marcelo Sarvas, former NFL stars Dhani Jones, Gary Clark, John Booty and Brandon Frye and U.S. Olympian Giuseppe Lanzone. The clothing worn in the show was provided by designers Paul Stuart and Alex Teih. The female models were styled by One80 Salon.
This year’s “Walk This Way” raised more than $100,000 for the nonprofit’s Men of Code program, which teaches coaches and young male athletes to become leaders in the movement to end domestic violence. The proceeds will go toward putting the program in three additional Washington, D.C. schools in 2017. Oubre was excited to make his catwalk debut — on his 21st birthday, no less. “You catch me on an off day, I always look fresh,” Oubre said. “I’m just showing my style up there on stage, it’s fun for me.”
Founded in 2006 by attorney and former reality TV contestant Becky Lee, Becky’s Fund has raised more than $500,000 to prevent domestic violence through education and advocacy. “Through lessons on positive masculine roles, violence prevention, and leadership, our ‘Men of Code’ learn what it means to have integrity both on and off the field,” said Lee, who used the prize money from her 2006 second-place win on CBS’s Survivor: Cook Islands to start the fund that year. “They’re given the tools to take a stand against dating and domestic violence.”
“We have a lot of God-fearing men in our locker room, and we don’t stand for any talk about domestic violence,” Oubre said. “It’s not something people laugh about or condone in any way. I take pride in treating women like queens. That’s the way I was raised. So it’s a big thing for me tonight to be here to support this cause.”
“I always love to show my support for Becky, and I love to come out to help money for this event,” said Baker, whose nickname is “Swaggy.” “I don’t have any personal stories about domestic violence, but I do think if you know someone who is a victim — or even an abuser — you have to offer them a hand and get them help.”
Domestic violence is an increasingly important and polarizing issue in the pro sports world. Baker acknowledged that there’s a disconnect between the violence fans see on the football field and the personalities of football players off the field. “You see guys on the field and they’re angry and pumped up and talking trash,” Baker said. “And then, you meet them off the field, and you’re like, ‘Oh, he’s a really nice guy.’
“Most guys who’ve been playing the game for a while are pretty humble,” said Baker, who was sentenced to two years’ probation for his involvement in two on-campus fights while he was a student at Penn State. “We treat ladies with respect and we’re pretty good guys. But when you’re on that football field, you’ve gotta bring the beast out that’s in you. It just has to stay out there and not come out anywhere else.”
“Guys are really getting into the fashion culture these days,” said Porter, who plays small forward for the Wizards. “I wasn’t really into fashion growing up because of where I was raised in south St. Louis, Missouri. But it’s cool to be able to dress the way you want — I’m happy about that.”
Domestic violence is a “cause that athletes are familiar with,” Porter continued. “I’ve had friends who I’ve come up with that have had domestic violence in their households. It can be a terrible situation to be in – a bad thing to have in your household growing up. As a pro athlete, you don’t know if you can make a difference until you try, so you say yes to events like this that can raise money to help out.”