Photography: Christian Diaz
NFL star Jarvis “Juice” Landry is one of the most charismatic athletes of his generation. As a young, dynamic talent on and off the field, he champions individualism and authenticity while using his platform to make change.
Jarvis knows that greatness does not allow for weakness. He doesn’t permit weakness on the field, in the locker room or in his headspace. At 12 years old, Jarvis and his older brother, Gerard, mimicked pro-level, hillside workouts. They ran sprints up a 30-foot water levy, the only elevation they could find on the banks of the Mississippi River in Convent, Louisiana. It was the start of a journey that shaped him into the record-setting, five-time Pro Bowl Cleveland wide receiver he is now.
Jarvis learned his work ethic from his brother, also a wide receiver, and his mother. She provided for the household by working multiple jobs and 12-hour shifts, showing Jarvis the value of personal sacrifice for a greater purpose.
Jarvis applies this “no days off” attitude to his practice and play. It’s why he’s never missed an NFL game in his entire career, except for one in 2020 (due to COVID-19 regulations). After playing through foot injuries in college, he’s played through a broken sacrum, an injured hip and a broken rib, all of which took weeks to heal.
The iron man toughness has paid major dividends, as Jarvis previously set the NFL record for the most receptions by a wide receiver during his first two (194), three (288), four (400), five (481) and six (564) seasons. Those numbers have only been touched by fellow Jordan Brand family member Michael Thomas. In 2017, Jarvis led the league with 112 receptions and was the only player that year to record at least five receptions in all 16 regular-season games.
Jarvis’ intense passion and relentless energy are what earned him the nickname “Juice” during his college days, and he became a natural leader in Cleveland. Despite being only 5’11 and about 200 pounds, he’s the one making the brutal block. He’s the one making the massive hit. He’s the one down the field first. The ambidextrous receiver does whatever he needs to do in order to get his team a win, including tossing left-handed, perfect-spiral darts to OBJ in the endzone when his coach calls for it.
Jarvis also competes to uplift everyone around him. We spoke to him about his upbringing, learning the game and earning a spot on the Jordan Brand roster. Welcome to the family, Jarvis.
What does it feel like to be a part of the Jordan Brand family?
Man, It’s an honor. My team and I have had numerous conversations with Jordan Brand, so it is exciting to watch it all come together. I’m beyond grateful and just looking forward to representing the Brand on this scale.
What did Jordans represent to you as a kid, and what was your first pair?
My first pair was probably one of my brother’s shoes that I stole from him. [Laughs] I typically go with the Air Jordan Is. I started with the high tops, and now I also rock the low tops. I like every colorway, it’s an iconic shoe. That’s my go-to.
What are you looking forward to when it comes to rocking Air Jordan cleats on the field?
Obviously having the opportunity to wear them on the field, but then also making sure I do my thing. That’s a big part of this. I’m somebody who grabbed the attention of Jordan Brand to represent them on the field. Like I said before, it’s an honor to do that. Once we get on the field, it’s up to me to help carry that legacy.
Growing up, your brother was a mentor to you. What are some of the things you learned from him that stay with you to this today?
My brother had one mentality throughout high school and college: REFUSE TO LOSE. I grew up watching his relentless work ethic, and that’s one of the things that I’ve always carried with me. One of the things I’ll have written on my gloves and my cleats is “REFUSE TO LOSE.” It’s our mantra.
The sentiment of “I refuse to lose” comes through in your song, “I Cannot Lose.” Can we expect an album soon?
Listen, really soon. I’m talking really soon. I’ve just been working constantly. I’m in the studio now. There’s lights and ambiance here.
Going back to your brother, you’ve said that you learned your ferocious playing style from him. How has that approach gotten you to where you are in the NFL?
When you’re trying to do something at a high level, you have to be obsessed with it. That’s how all of the greats are. They love the game. When I was in college breaking into the facility to train, it was just an obsession. I didn’t go to spring break, I stayed back and trained. All of those sacrifices ensured that I’d be ready to be at this level of performance. I always had a big vision in mind, of who I wanted to be as a player, and I knew I had to work to get here.
Ever since you entered the league, you’ve pretty much been an iron man. In your opinion, what does it take to stay durable and consistent?
Availability. That’s one of the first things I always heard about and that I know well. It’s the mentality I’ve always had. The more you play, and the more available you are, the more stats or recognition opportunities you’ll have.
Growing up, how did you get into sneakers?
My brother. My brother was the sneakerhead of the family. He always had all the shoes. He would set the boxes up in the house all nice and neat. That’s probably how I got caught taking them. [Laughs] I’d leave the boxes where they weren’t supposed to be. Ruin his display! Mind you, I was a size nine, and he was a size 13. So you can imagine how many pairs of socks I had on. [Laughs]
Receivers get a lot of attention for big touchdown plays, though there’s obviously much more to the game and to the position. How would you describe the little things you do that make you a great player?
Efficiency, just efficiency and consistency. I make sure that I can make plays when the team is counting on me — that they trust me to be in those types of positions. Obviously, I’m a big believer in practice, so that when the moment comes, I’m ready for it.
What are your favorite MJ moments and why?
Man, there are so many! His mindset, his passion and the things he loved about the game. While I was watching The Last Dance, something that really stuck out to me was that trophy right after he lost his dad. It symbolized his journey — his hard work, sacrifice, loss and love. It was all right there. It’s an important reminder that athletes are human beings. There are a lot of things that go on in our lives. MJ still had to go out there and perform at a high level, in a championship game. That’s something a lot of people cannot do.
The nickname “Juice” came from one of your teammates while you were in college. What gives you energy, and what kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not on the field?
For one, I’m doing what I love to do. Since I was a kid, I’ve been able to lace up pretty much every day of the week. That was my safe place from everything going on in my environment or in my situation at home. It was my safe place to just be me. I found joy there. But football is what I do, it’s not who I am.
My passions in life continue to evolve. I enjoy being a father. I love to create. Whether it’s music, art, fashion or culture, I enjoy all of it. One of the most profound roles I have is being a leader in my community — being a mentor and using my platform to leave this world better than I found it. That’s part of the reason why I started my foundation.
You have your foundation, The Jarvis Landry Building Winners Foundation, and also host Give Back events throughout the year. Jordan Brand has committed to a mission of “action over words” when it comes to supporting the Black community. Why is giving back so important to you?
Man, it’s everything to me. I know where I’m from. The disparities, the struggles — I’ve faced the same ones. There are kids in my community who need support and guidance, to have someone in their corner. Sometimes, it just helps to know that someone cares. I made a promise to myself back in high school, that if I ever got the opportunity to give back, I would. I hold myself to it.
I’ve always been active in the community, but my foundation allows me to bring all of these initiatives together. Our mission is to positively impact the lives of children and families facing socioeconomic disparities and chronic health conditions, including Cystic Fibrosis. These are the things I care about, and it’s really powerful to see it all come together.
As athletes, we have an incredible platform and the responsibility to use it. I know the issues are complex. They’re heavy. It can be overwhelming. I’ve learned that there is never going to be a finish line with making a difference, so you just have to start. Pick up the baton and run with it. When it’s all said and done, I hope my foundation leaves a legacy that helps spark change and makes our world a fairer, more equitable place.