Laynie Hails' passion for the Atlanta Hawks is a work of art, literally.
The Atlanta native, created an "Icey" mosaic portrait of Hawks star guard Trae Young and a red velvet cake of the Hawks' rising star, Kevin Huerter. Prior to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks, the portrait caught Young's attention on Twitter where he quoted her tweet with "Amazing ! ❄️❤️."
"My initial reaction was just an overwhelming sense of pride that not only did he see it but took the time to say something," Hails said.
Finally. I couldn't be more excited to share my icey portrait of @TheTraeYoung. I worked on it piece by piece over the last week or so and I am so proud. 🥶— Laynie (@Laynie_Red) July 1, 2021
Crushed glass on acrylic.
30x36 #BelieveAtlanta #TrueToAtlanta #IceTrae #Hawksin6 #EasternConferenceFinals pic.twitter.com/vtYnA868Tj
Young remains questionable to play in Game 6 with a bone bruise in his left foot.
Hails has been a sports lover all her life. She grew up with a sports-obsessed dad and played soccer, but basketball wasn't in the picture until recently.
"I've honestly never been as into basketball as much as other sports so while I've just casually followed the Hawks my whole life, I've never been as interested as I am now," Hails said.
When it comes to her art, she isn't limited to one medium, though the Hawks are often a muse.
"I just love creating in different ways and I'm never scared to try new ways to make art," said Hails, who works as a paralegal in Atlanta. "Using the materials for Trae was my first time using crushed glass."
Hails has been making art her whole life, and the joy comes in exploring and experimenting. She has dabbled in things from drawing and painting to photography, sewing and interior and floral design. She has also tried her hand at confections like custom-designed sugar cookies and cakes.
"Often my ideas are inspired by what's on my mind and they just randomly come to me," she said. "I see the world and everything as art and when I have an idea in my head, I have to work through it or else it drives me crazy."
Since the playoffs began, the Hawks have been on her mind.
After Game 1 of the Hawks' series against the New York Knicks, Young made the "shhh" motion and quieted a raucous crowd in New York. Hails was inspired by Young's "Ice Trae" nickname, shimmy-shoulder move and his performance in the playoffs. So she began to think about a piece of art in response.
"With this piece, my mind immediately went to using real ice and how cool would that be but obviously that's impossible in Atlanta in the summer ..." Hails said.
"And then I thought about metaphors for ice or other ways to convey an icey feel and I settled on glass."
Hails was able to source crushed glass pieces in various shades of light blue and then it all came together. She decided to use an acrylic sheet as her canvas because she wanted to keep with the ice/glass theme.
Using a photo of Young, Hails drew him on the acrylic sheet, covered it with a strong adhesive and then attached the crushed glass.
Young is now Hails' favorite NBA player, but there is more to it than an exciting player serving as her artistic muse.
"Not only is Trae a fantastic player, his spirit, determination, and character is inspiring and it's what drew me in and compelled me to engage with the Hawks' on a deeper level which resulted in unprecedented obsession," Hails said.
Hails also credits Trae's father, Rayford Young, for supporting his son. That has brought Hails back to her and her father's love of sports.
"It makes me think of my own dad who tirelessly took me to all of my soccer practices, games, and tournaments even when there was no gas left in the tank and I see that in Mr. Young," she said.
"It's that personal connection that connected me to basketball in a way I never was before and there's no going back."