Basketball star with cancer devastated by theft of Nike collection worth £10k

A former pro-basketball player has been left devastated after his cherished collection of more than 50 pairs of designer trainers worth over £10k was stolen.

Mike Martin, 46, played professional basketball for 20 years, and spent his career curating his collection of 52 pairs of special edition Nike Michael Jordan shoes.

But the whole, cherished collection was stolen overnight last Friday from the back of a locked moving van after Mike and his fiancée, Amy Andrews, had spent the day moving belongings to their new home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Dad-of-three Mike had described the theft as the 'final straw' as he is currently battling cancer.

He was diagnosed in June with a stage three brain tumour, and had to undergo six weeks of gruelling radiotherapy and will soon begin chemotherapy.

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The former basketballer, who was part of the England team when they won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2006, said: "It was a really big kick in the teeth.

"The last few months have been so draining, physically and emotionally, and this is the straw that's broken the camel's back. It's just been too much for me.

"That Jordan collection had taken me 20-plus years to build up. They were all collectors' items — he would release them, and then take them off the market soon after, so their value would rise.

"There was over £10,000 worth of shoes in there that were taken. They were hardly ever worn, and really well looked after — they were in pristine condition."

And as well as the 50 pairs of limited edition Michael Jordan shoes, Mike has also lost a particularly sentimental pair of Nike Air Force 1 Supreme trainers – which he had custom made in memory of his late mother.

The specially-designed shoes were created in the colours and likeness of the flag of Eastern Caribbean island St Lucia, where Mike's parents were from.

Mike said: "Those shoes were particularly special to me, as I had them designed in memory of my mum.

"She passed away in 2007 – but she was quite ill, so she never got to come over and see me play basketball. She only ever watched my games on TV."

Mike's friend, Bridget Hayward, from Guildford, Surrey, has set up a fundraising page in the wake of the theft to help support Mike and Amy, 33, financially through their move and his treatment.

The GoFundMe page has raised almost £3,000 in just two days.

Mike and Amy are in the process of moving from Mike's home in north-west London, to Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, to "start afresh" after Mike's diagnosis.

Mike had an operation at the end of June to remove the brain tumour but still has cancerous cells left in his brain. He has just completed six weeks of daily radiotherapy, and next month is due to start "a minimum" of six months of chemotherapy.

But Mike said the theft of his prized shoe collection has added to his stress — which is not good for his health.

He said: "My heart just sunk. Having lived in London my whole life you are aware of certain areas where things like that do happen.

"I was hoping that moving to Leigh would be an opportunity to get away from all of that stuff. To be greeted by that on the morning of unpacking and settling into your new home just knocked me and Amy for six.

"Going through what I'm going through right now they stress the importance of remaining stress-free. That just brought on a wave of emotion that left me completely drained for the weekend and wallowing to a certain extent."

Unfortunately, there are no CCTV cameras on any of the houses in the area, so Mike and Amy have had no luck in trying to apprehend the shoe thieves.

But Mike said: "I reckon they were just opportunist thieves – all the shoes were in boxes, and there's no way that they could have known what was inside the boxes.

"It's over an hour and a half's drive from my house in north-west London to Leigh-on-Sea, so it seems almost impossible that they'd have followed us from there."

The transit van was parked across the road from Mike and Amy's new home at the time of the theft, and was locked.

But Mike added: "We've found out since that transit vans are apparently really easy to break into."

The couple did report the incident to Essex Police, who are currently looking for information relating to the theft.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: "We received a report that sometime overnight between Friday, August, 28, and Saturday, August 29, a white Ford Transit van was broken into.

"The van was in London Road, Leigh-on-sea, and a number of designer trainers were taken, valued at a four figures sum.

"If anyone has any information or CCTV footage please call us on 101 quoting crime reference 42/136724/20, or you can report it online at www.essex.police.uk."

In the meantime, Mike urged members of the public to keep an eye out for any bulk sales of pristine-condition, size 12 Michael Jordan shoes online.

He also thanked his friend Bridget, who set up the fundraising page, and everyone who has donated, for their generosity.

He said: "We've been really shocked and taken aback by how much people have wanted to help.

"The last thing we wanted was to look like we were begging for help – but what with me being unable to work due to the cancer, this will really help cover us, financially."

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