TJ’s King has ‘designs’ on success

Fred Jeter | 11/9/2023, 6 p.m.
There are two different sides to Isaiah King. On the football field, he is the consummate middle linebacker — wide-shouldered, ...
Isaiah King

There are two different sides to Isaiah King.

On the football field, he is the consummate middle linebacker — wide-shouldered, locomotive strong and ready to rumble.

Off the fields, King is an aspiring fashion designer.

The Thomas Jefferson High School senior splits his time between making fierce tackles for the 9-0 Vikings and as founder and CEO of “1motionapparel.com.”

He has established a website, but it was not up and running as of last week.

In the meantime, he hopes to take orders over his cell phone.

“Since I don’t have time for a regular part-time job, it was something I could do at home on my phone,” he said.

“I draw the designs for shirts, hats, shorts, hoodies, etc., and get help from a graphic designer.”

Many of his customers are his classmates.

If the fashion business isn’t booming yet, it is for Vikings football, in search of their first-ever undefeated season and state championship since the era of segregation.

TJ won state crowns in 1942 and 1953.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound King leads TJ in tackles with about 70 heading into the opening round of the Class 3 Region B playoffs. He also had two interceptions against J.R. Tucker, one of which he ran

back for a touchdown.

“Isaiah is our motivational leader,” says Coach Eric Harris. “He’s really physical and likes to pound the rock.

“He’s one of our top candidates for All-Region honors and even All-State.”

King’s spearheads a rock ’em, sock ’em defense that has allowed just 67 points all season and boasts three shutouts.

Along with serving as a wrecking ball in the middle of the defense, King takes his turns as a bruising fullback and aggressive special teams’ player.

TJ hasn’t won a state title since integration and the advent of the state playoffs, but King has. He was a top backup as a sophomore on Varina’s 2021 State Class 4 championship.

His family moved from Eastern Henrico to the city last year. This is his second and final season as a Viking and he aims to maximize it.

“We work hard all week, and we like to show off on game nights,” he said. “We like to think of ourselves as the most physical team around. We may be under-looked by some, but we don’t feel that way. We feel we can beat anyone on our schedule.”

A nearly straight-A student, King aspires to play college football and possibly follow one of his role models, Shamar Graham, to nearby Virginia Union.

Graham sparkled at TJ as a linebacker and running back and is now a key cog in the VUU defense.

For now, King says he’s “wide open” for college offers.

He’s hopeful playoff games at VUU’s Hovey Field will provide more recognition and opportunities to impress college scouts.

Wherever he goes, he hopes to make a physical impact on the field while also displaying a passion for fashion off it.