How Harvard women’s basketball Gabby Anderson showcases her artistry on and off the court

Anderson’s first significant client was a former Atlanta Dream coach Nicki Collenwho reached out in 2020 for a shoe design dedicated to Breonna Taylor which she could wear as part of the WNBA’s Black Lives Matter movement. Anderson has also painted shoes for the Seattle Storm star Sue BirdCeltics forward Grant Williamsand more recently Patriots defensive end Dietrich Wise Jr. She has also produced canvas collections for Wal-Mart and SLAM magazine.

The 5-foot-11-inch guard has kept the business going while also starting every Harvard game until recently being sidelined with a knee injury.

“The great thing about art is that no matter what you do with it, at some point you have to use a creative outlet for yourself,” Anderson said. “I make the best shoes when I feel good about what I’m creating.”

Anderson typically receives shoe orders via Instagram direct messages; her mother, Celia, helps organize the process. Anderson constructs mock-up ideas on his iPad with ProCreate and translates them into the shoe.

A custom pair of shoes for the Patriots’ Deatrich Wise Jr.Celia Andersen

Last April, Anderson signed a NIL deal with WME, an agency that has been a game-changer for her reach. She has attended marquee events such as Wimbeldon to network and get her spotlight.

Signing with WME, she said, “it was in a way where I felt like I stepped up another notch. I kind of feel like I’m doing all these things, but it made me more passionate about what I was doing if I have to be completely honest.”

Anderson has found her way as an artist while keeping up with her family’s impressive basketball history. Celia played at Arkansas; Celia’s cousin is a former Magic star Nick Andersenand her uncle, Ron Andersenplayed in the NBA for 10 seasons.

Anderson averaged 4.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals across 15 starts before her injury. Harvard coach Carrie Moore appreciates Anderson for her poise, high motor and defensive versatility, which allows her to guard point guards and centers.

“Having a first year that doesn’t really act or act like a first year is such a blessing,” Moore said.

Celtics’ Grant Williams had these designed by Graffiti by Gabby.Celia Andersen

Opponents often credit Anderson as “the girl who makes shoes.” Young girls have messaged Anderson on social media to show support and ask to meet her at a match. Anderson quickly recognizes the strength of her platform as a young leader.

“Honestly, with work and confidence, you can do anything you want,” she said. “And I’m just so proud that there are kids who feel that way about me and think of me as a beautiful role model to do whatever they want.”

Celia watches her daughter balance high-level workloads as an artist, Harvard student and basketball player. The two have a particularly close bond. Celia raised Anderson as a single mother in Gahanna, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Her full-time job is the Director of Business Development for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, and her part-time job is helping Graffiti by Gabby.

Watching Anderson make multiple dreams come true at once is heartwarming for her mother.

“All those nights when you’re on your knees and you’re praying and you’re thinking, ‘I’ve just got to get something from somewhere for something,’ it’s almost like answered prayers to see her here now,” Celia said. “You breathe a sigh of relief and you think, ‘We’re beating the odds. On every account, we’re beating the odds.’ “

It will be hard to walk

Boston College (13-9) has lost four straight and is slumping as it reaches the heart of Atlantic Coast Conference play. Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee noted after a 67-57 loss to Clemson on Sunday that her young players have to expect physicality in a tough league. “They have to start adjusting and understanding that they can’t play for the offense,” she said. “They have to play through it and play strong and really, everybody has to move.” … Neither Boston University nor Holy Cross have blinked yet in their Patriot League tours de force. Both teams are 8-0. Their first head-to-head matchup is Feb. 15 … After starting the season 1-12, Merrimack has won three of its last four games.

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