CHICAGO — Brandon Cox is making a difference in Chicago, and he's doing it one step at a time.
For the last five years, he's been touching lives with just two things: a box full of shoes, and a desire to make a difference for people living on the streets he grew up on through Kicks4Joy.
"They say to me, 'Man, why are you doing this? I tell them my family planted that seed in my heart. It all started at home,'" Cox said.
Cox said he's lived on the same Chicago street most of his life. Over the years, the former high school basketball star has watched his neighborhood change.
"I see a lot of things that's negative and people struggling," Cox said.
That's when Cox — known for his giant presence and huge smile — decided he wanted to do something equally big for the people struggling to make it on the streets. He started with his car and a trunk full of shoes.
"I ride around, and if I see somebody that's homeless or in need, I pull, over and open my trunk," Cox said. "I got pretty much every size shoe you can imagine. Tell them, take what you need; you can have it!"
During one of the coldest stretches this winter, Cox said he gave away 600 pairs of shoes. Brandon's mother Karla said her son amazes her.
"I had Brandon when I was just 15. He taught me what true love was, and now here he is showing the whole city how to love and give back," Karla said.
Brandon said he's lost count of the number of donated shoes he's collected and passed out over the years, but he says every time he passes someone on the streets with a new pair of kicks, it brings him joy.
"We hear so many negative things about Chicago, but there's a lot of great people in the city," Cox said.