- Associated Press - Monday, June 27, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - Adam Jones recently procured the final pieces of an extremely rare shoe collection.

Just how exclusive is this footwear?

Even with a multimillion-dollar salary and the perks that accompany fame at his disposal, it still took Baltimore’s All-Star center fielder four years and a shoe-sleuthing crew of 10 people to complete the extraordinary and special collection: Ten pairs of limited edition Doernbecher Air Jordans made by Nike.

“They’re my prized possessions,” Jones said.

Sure, he admires the look and the exclusivity of the sneakers, but that’s far secondary to the meaning behind these kicks.

Their name is derived from the acclaimed Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, where kids with illnesses from cancer to kidney failure work with Nike on the designs. The collaboration has raised more than $14 million for the hospital since its inception .

“Everybody knows who Michael Jordan is and the impact that Jordan has, and by them going out there and doing this and having those kids feel extra-special is what it’s about,” Jones said. “Obviously I’ll do anything for kids and having them feel that way, being able to create a custom pair of shoes that most of their peers wouldn’t have a chance to do is truly a blessing for those kids.”

One of the final pieces to his collection might be the one that means the most.

The Doernbecher 5s were created by Isaac Arzate, a preteen basketball and baseball player who went into cardiac arrest during basketball practice. An undiagnosed abnormality was discovered and open-heart surgery followed. He designed the shoes in 2012 while in rehabilitation at the hospital, but before they were released the 12-year-old died after a second heart attack.

The sleek black shoes feature Arzate’s basketball and baseball numbers, have his initials and the dates of his birth and death on the tongue, and heartbreakingly feature a few words from a poem he wrote the day before he died. The shoes also come with a small flashlight which emits a UV light causing them to glow in the dark.

The Doernbechers retail from between $150 and $250, but were going for much more than that with releases that were often less than 1,000 pairs. Jones acknowledged spending $2,500 on a pair.

“The shoe will never get made again, so I look at it as I’m blessed to be able to throw money away like that,” he said. “I’m just blessed to find a passion. I like shoes. I like Jordans so, hey, it’s all part of it.”

Jones enjoys fashion and thinks about style, but his overarching theme when dressing is comfort. For instance, he likes the look of skinny jeans but won’t wear them because they’re constricting. He swears he’s worn the same suit for 98 percent of travel days in his 162-game baseball season over the past 2 1/2 years because it “feels like pajamas.”

And when he’s not in his beloved Doernbechers you’ll often see him in chic low top sneakers from French designer Lanvin. He adores them in large part because they feel good on his size 12 feet.

“I can’t find any red bottoms that fit me too well, they’re too hard to find and they’re too expensive sometimes,” Jones said, referring to the ubiquitous crimson soles on Christian Louboutin’s creations. “The Lanvin are priced pretty high, but they’re very comfortable and durable. So I’ve spent some money on them.”

He has about six pairs of the shoes that range in price from $490 for the suede and patent leather ones he wore on the day he spoke about his fashion to his most extravagant non-Doernbecher shoe purchase of a $1,200 animal-print pair.

And with all his fabulous shoes, Jones has to have a top-notch sock game. He has about 40-50 pairs of statement socks that feature everything from mustaches to hot dogs and hamburgers. This collection was born from his penchant for browsing Amazon.com out of boredom on some of those endless nights on the road.

It took some time for the 30-year-old Jones to hone his style.

“I’ve always been simple,” he said. “Growing up I didn’t have all the clothes I wanted so I always had to mix and match and try to make things look good and go together. I would just switch things up to try and make them look different.”

He shakes his head remembering a gaudy and oversized diamond necklace he bought as a rookie. It was the first big wardrobe purchase he made when he started receiving a major league salary. But he sold it when he realized it simply wasn’t him.

“It was too much,” he said. “It was more of an impulse purchase like: ‘Oh, I can do this. I can hang with the big boys purchase,’ and I just realized that I don’t need to do that to be a big boy.”

He’s now partial to more subdued jewelry that turns heads not for being overboard but because it’s so unique. He recently commissioned his jeweler to create four diamond charms and necklaces that are identical except in color.

“They’re literally like plugs that come out of the electrical socket and I got them all diamonded out,” he said of the collection that includes one with white diamonds, a black diamond one, one featuring yellow diamonds and one in rose gold with diamonds, which together set him back about $7,500.

They’re certainly eye-catching, but why plugs?

“I really got them because people ask me for stuff all the time in terms of where can I get this? Where can I get that and how can I get this?” he said. “And in today’s day … it’s called being the plug. So I consider myself the plug. So if you ever want anything, need anything, If I ain’t got it, I can get it, if I can’t get it, I know somebody that can get it. So everything’s accessible. That’s the motto I take.”

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