Who is Joey Yates?
Born 1965 in Detroit, Michigan, JOSEPH ‘LOVE’ YATES dropped out of high school his sophomore and headed to Los Angeles at the height of the southern Californian freestyle sports movement. Joey’s contemporaries made a name for themselves in skateboarding, surfing, martial arts… Joey Yates chose tennis.
He took tennis from the country clubs to the concrete public courts of LA’s inner city with an unorthodox, free-form style that shook the foundation of American tennis culture and gave voice to a working class generation previously shut out of the sport. Sneaking into athletic clubs, playing for money, Joey Yates became the first great tennis “hustler”.
In the early 1980′s Yates built his street legend beating the best players in San Fernando Valley, slamming backhand shots across the net from film producers, making big money and sharing his winnings with his community.
In 1982, he met up with renowned tennis coach BOBBY “DUTCH” GRISBI (died 2002). Grisbi, known for reforming troubled youth through athletics, became a father figure for Yates, setting him on the path to the 1984 Olympics.
Under Dutch, the world started to learn about Joey Yates. What started in southern California spread to New York City, then to London, infecting the 1980′s tennis culture with Joey’s raw talent and personality. Even as an amateur, Joey gained “rock star” status, building a reputation for parties and drinking that rivaled his work on the court.
Dutch tried to pull Yates away from the edge, but the same raw energy that fueled Joey’s play style also fueled his private life.
In January of 1983 Joey checked himself into rehab, but left after just two days, returning to the sport. Despite his personal struggles, Yates continued to win under Dutch’s coaching. By the spring of 1983 Joey Yates was the the most exciting amateur player in the world of Tennis.
That spring, Joey Yates became the first athlete to be signed to K-Swiss and his unique style inspired the brand to develop a line of original apparel that represented Joey’s renegade spirit.