View From Above
Air Up There explains his challenge to Blake Griffin.
Y’all know who Air Up There is, right?
For those who’ve been hiding underneath a rock for the past couple of years, he’s that dude from Ball Up, AND 1 before that, who became an Internet sensation seemingly overnight for his high-flying antics at and above the rim. Dude has crazy hops, on the real.
The 360, between the legs dunk, that’s Air Up There.
The famous 720 degree dunk, that’s Air Up There.
Air Up There, who’s given name is Taurian Jerrae Stephaun Fontenette, has apparently issued a good ol’ fashioned challenge, of sorts, to Blake Griffin. It appears as if he wants to see how his hops stack up against the NBA star in a one-on-one dunk contest.
Those looking for proof, here’s the press release.
That said, we figured it was about time to talk with Air Up There and see exactly where his head is at these days. He was more than happy to chat on Friday afternoon, candidly at times. So without further delay, let’s go ahead and jump into things with him.
SLAM: Heard it’s your birthday, how old?
Air Up There: Turned 29 today.
SLAM: You’re still a puppy, not even 30 yet. Life begins at 30, you know?
AUT: I’m in a good place. I’m hanging out with my son, enjoying everything life has to offer. I’m blessed.
SLAM: Not many know your past. Growing up in Hitchcock, TX, you played football back in the day right?
AUT: Yeah, played football when I was younger. I didn’t play basketball until I was a freshman in high school.
SLAM: Who do you consider to be an all-time gridiron great?
AUT: Emmitt Smith.
SLAM: Being a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I decide it best to leave that answer alone. Moving on: What made you switch sports, leave the pads and helmet behind for sneakers and the hardwood?
AUT: Once I started playing basketball, I fell in love with it. I started practicing more and more. Like I said, I fell in love with the game, thought it was something I could do, so I worked hard.
SLAM: Who do you consider to be the all-time best basketball player?
AUT: Michael Jordan.
SLAM: Remember your first dunk?
AUT: I was 13 or 14, caught the ball off the rim and put it back. I was called for goaltending. It didn’t matter though, I was hooked.
SLAM: You played college ball too, got a full-ride, a scholarship, to play at University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP). What happened next?
AUT: There were some coaching changes at UTEP. Then, I got hurt.
SLAM: That wasn’t the end of your basketball days though, it was just beginning, correct?
AUT: I got put on with AND 1 after that.
SLAM: You had a good run with those guys, for a few years, if I’m not mistaken. That’s when you went big time on us, especially with the 720. Talk about the evolution of the dunk?
AUT: I was 15, with my dad in the backyard, messing around on an 8-foot goal, it might have been 8 1/2. First, I did a 360. Then, I went for the 720 and missed. I tried again and got it down.
SLAM: Years later, on June 28, 2006 to be exact, at Reliant Stadium in your home state of Texas, you unveiled the dunk for the world to see. What was that like?
AUT: I was back home, in Houston, and had a lot of people there to see me. I was amped up. I came down the court and went after it. Things happened so fast. I got up, heard the reaction from the crowd, that’s when I knew I got the ball down. Everything blacked out for a minute. That dunk changed my life. After that, guys like Vince Carter came up and gave me compliments. It was crazy.
SLAM: You’ve been doing big things ever since, particularly with Ball Up right now. You guys have a show on Fox Sports Net that airs on Sunday nights at 5 and 9 p.m. What’s the future hold?
AUT: Ball Up is different from And1. We’re more than just streetball. We’re basketball players. Yeah, we still put on a good show, but we’re taking things to the next level. We’ve got a lot of people behind us, a lot of fans.
SLAM: Getting back to your fans, I noticed you changed your Twitter handle earlier this week to @AirUpThere. Any reason for that, was it for your peeps, or tweeps, as they sometimes say?
AUT: Yeah, I did it for my fans, I want them to know what I’m doing. I want to be able to talk with them, want them to ask me questions whenever they want. I think I had 200 new followers on Twitter in the first day. For me, it’s all about the fans, giving them what they want.
SLAM: Word is starting to spread, everyone wants to know what’s going on with the challenge you issued to Blake Griffin. Care to explain?
AUT: It’s all about competition. I’m not trying to take away his spotlight or shine, people love to see him play. I turn on ESPN to see his highlights. I love his energy. A guy with Blake’s size shouldn’t be able to jump like that. Bottom line is, I think a dunk contest between us is something the fans would like to see.
SLAM: Have you met him before or spoke to anyone in his camp?
AUT: Not yet. Hopefully, that happens soon.
SLAM: If this thing materializes, who wins?
AUT: Not sure. I know I can hold my own. It would be a battle, something I’d love to do. It would be a great experience.
SLAM: No doubt, that would be an encounter plenty would pay good money to see. Perhaps you guys can do a dunk contest for charity, who knows… In the meantime, everyone can check out this link to see how things might go down. Good talk, Air Up There. Thanks for catching up with us and shedding some light on the past, present and future with our loyal SLAMonline readers. Stay up.
AUT: Thank you. Let’s do it again soon.