Happy birthday, Aaliyah!

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The legendary, self-described “full-on entertainer” would’ve celebrated her 40th birthday today if not for the tragic accident that took her life on August 25, 2001 at the youthful age of 22. As birthdays are always met with gifts and pleasantries, we’re sure Baby Girl would’ve love receiving something she adored: a fresh pair of kicks.

The undisputed Princess of R&B could’ve easily been deemed the Princess of Sneakers as well, especially considering her love for Nikes — the Air Max series seemed to be her fave. How do we know? Well, given Aaliyah’s place as one of the flyest musicians of all-time, we took some time to reminisce over her greatest sneaker moments documented throughout her career. From classic drops like the Air Force 1 to more rare finds like the Air Max Uptempo 3.0, this was one woman that always stayed up on the hottest releases.


Take a look below to see how Aaliyah kept her kick game proper, from the early Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number era to just days before the ill-fated “Rock The Boat” video shoot:

10. Nike Air Up “Penny”

Worn At: Urban Aid 4 Lifebeat Event (1995)

Even as a youngin’, Aaliyah knew about the heat. These “Pennys” she was rocking over two decades ago are still fresh today.

9. Nike Air More Uptempo

Worn At: MTV Rock N’ Jock Event (1996)

Those celebrity basketball games that MTV used to throw were the best! Of course Liy would have on a pair of crisp white Uptempos with a custom jersey to match. Water.

Image: The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

8. Nike Air Force One Mid SC

Worn At: Lil Kim’s “Crush On You (Remix)” Music Video (1997)

Too fresh! You can’t even find these with the jewel Swoosh on the side anymore.

Image: Anderson Ballantyne

7. Clark’s Wallabee

Worn At: “Hot Like Fire (Remix)” Music Video (1997)

The best part about this look was the way Aaliyah freaked it: one red Wallabee, the other black. Custom leather camo pants to match? Hot like fire, indeed.

Image: John Ricard

6. Nike Air Max Uptempo 3.0

Worn At: Soul Train Awards (1998)

The queen of all-black-everything continued her Air Max adoration with this rarely-seen Uptempo 3.0. These need a re-release, ASAP!

Image: Lisa Rose/Globe Photos

5. Nike Air Max Plus

Worn At: ELLE Magazine Photoshoot (1999)

This behind-the-shoot group pic makes it hard to see what colorway she was rocking, but the Air Max Plus silhouette is undeniable from any distance. Even Da Brat is looking at Aaliyah’s kicks like, “Where you get THOSE?!”

Image: ELLE, August 1999

4. K Swiss ST329

Worn At: Promo Tour in Berlin for Romeo Must Die & the chart-topping single “Try Again” (2000)

Staying fresh even when overseas. And yes, K Swiss was poppin’ in 2000 — don’t front!

Image: Mika Väisänen

3. adidas Superstar

Worn At: Me, Myself & Irene Premiere (2000)

Shelltoe Superstars for a superstar. It doesn’t get more classic than that.

Image: Frank Trapper / Getty

Honorable Mention: Timberland Premium 6-Inch Boot

Worn At: The Face Magazine Photoshoot (2000)

Technically these aren’t sneakers, but we couldn’t resist. Wheat Timbs on Aaliyah looked absolutely perfect. Peep the “Come Back In One Piece” video with DMX for another prime example.

Image: Christophe Rihet

2. PUMA Clyde

Worn At: MTV: ICON – Janet Jackson Event (2001)

If only Aaliyah and Janet were able to officially collaborate as they were planning around this time. Definitely one of the biggest “What ifs” often associated with her musical legacy.

Image: Alpha Agency / BestImage

1. Nike Air Force 1 Low

Worn At: Co-Hosting BET’s 106 & Park; Last Public Appearance (2001)

How fitting that an angel’s public sign-off would be while rocking all white and the most iconic silhouette in sneaker history. She’ll forever be a style icon.

Image: BET

Happy would-be 40th Birthday, Aaliyah! You’ll forever be a 22-year-old Princess of R&B in our eyes. We miss you. Share your favorite memories of the “One In a Million” chanteuse with us over on Facebook and Twitter!

About The Author

Lifestyle Editor

NYC-based photojournalist, self-proclaimed sneakerhead, and fiend for legit streetwear — #nohypebeast though! — that works daily to seamlessly link style, art, urban culture, and music on a common platform.

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