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Badger basketball teams celebrate Black History Month, honor Virgil Abloh with special edition shirts


As part of their celebration of Black History Month, the University of Wisconsin men’s and women’s basketball teams will wear shirts designed by the late UW alum Virgil Abloh, the fashion designer behind the Off-White brand. 

A 2003 graduate of the UW, Abloh died on November 28, 2021 at the age of 41. 

In a video tribute, several of Wisconsin’s student-athletes said:

“It’s impossible to describe the impact Virgil had on our generation’s culture… from the music we listen to, to the art we consume, to the clothes we wear. But more importantly, Virgil was an aspirational figure to the young Black community and to an entire generation. On behalf of Badgers everywhere, we mourn the passing of a Badger who changed the world.”

Head women’s basketball coach Marisa Moseley told Madison365 that the discussions among student-athletes started with the idea to make that video, but quickly progressed to wanting to do something bigger.

Marisa Moseley

“I think the conversation started going to, ‘Well, there was this design back in 2015 for ‘The RED Shirt’ tradition,’” Moseley said. “And so they did a reissue with this and working with (Abloh’s) estate and our campus partners came to this kind of idea.”

The design features the intersection of Abloh’s Off-White collection and the collegiate feel of a campus Abloh once described as “the perfect place to go to school.”

Wisconsin Athletics has made this re-issue exclusive to the Wisconsin Basketball teams as part of the Department’s BHM celebration, and it will not be available for sale to the general public.

Virgil Abloh at Paris Fashion Week, 2019. Photo by Myles Juhem. Creative Commons license.

“Virgil’s estate was gracious enough to allow us and the men’s team to wear these shirts that he designed prior to his passing. Any kid right now who has any kind of inkling of pop culture and design are fans of Off White. So, so many of our kids are Virgil Abloh fans,” Moseley said. “Obviously his passing was tragic, but he had such an affinity for the University of Wisconsin, and students here wanted to make sure that they were able to continue his legacy. And I think it’s a great way during Black History Month to not only honor him as a designer, but him as a person, and him as a fellow alum.”

Moseley said it’s important to engage in Black history all year around.

“I think it’s so critical that my team, whether we have a team full of black players or a mix – right now we have only two on our team – that we still talk about the importance of, we still celebrate and recognize, so many wonderful people during this month and this time,” she said.

She said during winter break, her team watched “Collin in Black and White,” the documentary series about former NFL quarterback Collin Kaepernick and discussed it for almost two hours afterward. The team plans to do the same with “The 13th,” the documentary on incarceration by Ava Duvernay, including “a similar kind of debrief and discussion.”

“Our responsibility is more than just teaching them basketball,” Moseley said. “And it’s more than just during black history month. We have a holistic approach here. And so we think that we’ve got to develop not just them, their body, but their mind and spirits as well.”