THE personal barber of NBA superstar Stephen Curry is a Filipino.
In a video titled “Hypebeast Fades & Fadeaways: Behind the Clippers of an NBA Barber,” online magazine Hypebeast recently featured JayR Mallari, a Fil-Am based in Los Angeles, California who started giving haircuts to his friends inside a garage and is now a barber to NBA stars.
Aside from the Golden State Warriors star and reigning NBA MVP, JayR also counts Los Angeles Clippers stars Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and coach Doc Rivers among his clients.
During his elementary days in the Bay Area in Northern California, the young JayR recalled he only received one pair of shoes throughout the whole school year.
“I tried to figure out a way to hustle and make money, I asked my friends if they would let me cut their hair… It wouldn’t be the best haircuts but I would try my best,” he told Hypebeast.
Charging his friends US$5 for a trim inside his family’s garage, it took the resourceful sixth grader about four months of cutting hair to buy the pair he always wanted, the 1997 Nike Air Pippen.
“In my transition from 8th to 9th Grade, Filipinos began lining up which is more a predominantly black haircut, I had to teach myself how to cut that type of hair. Since Filipinos wanted it I had to learn how to cut black hair first and then all my Filipino friends wanted haircuts like that,” he told Hypebeast TV.
Realizing his potential, JayR went to the owner of the Legends of Fairfax and asked him what it took to work in his establishment-- a Filipino kid who wanted to work in a black barbershop.
JayR got three friends to show off his handiwork and three weeks later he was in.
Four years after he started, JayR’s talent was recognized and developed a following that included some pretty famous clientele.
Chris Paul, a satisfied customer, hooked him up with Curry.
“That to me… I don’t know how to describe it. It was more like a dream come true. Ever since then we built a relationship and it became hella cool,” he said.
During the six-minute video, JayR was featured working on Curry’s trim at the NBA star’s home prior to the Warrior star’s upcoming trip to the Philippines and provided the attention to detail he gives to his customers.
“People would try to knick knack and pick on things like how his haircut isn’t clean or doesn’t stand out so I had to figure out a way to make his hair look clean and for people to actually say, ‘Wow! That’s a dope haircut!’
“We decided at one point just to grow his hair which gave an effect to make it darker at the top of his head and you would fade out the sides and the back. When you line up his hair you can actually tell now. Then after a while we started using a twists sponge. It’s more of a natural, clean look — super sharp lines with a nappy ‘fro.”
While trimming, JayR also taught the current NBA MVP some useful Tagalog words such as “Salamat po” to help Curry prepare for is first visit to Manila as part of his Under Armour tour.
“Manila’s not gonna know what hit ‘em!” Curry said.
A Youtube video entitled "Fresh Cuts, Fresh Lemonade" also features Curry having his hair cut at JayR’s house and being treated to a glass of strawberry lemonade. His Instagram account also shows JayR hanging out with other members of the Curry family, notably Steph's dad Dell and younger brother Seth.
“I think relationships (are) the key to everything in barbering. Every time somebody sits in my chair I honestly feel like I have about 30 minutes to gain somebody’s trust. You’re perfecting somebody’s image. You have a huge part in someone’s image. One thing about building relationships is actually caring about someone. Barbering starts for me is about caring for someone,” JayR said.
As a sign of his appreciation, Curry gifted JayR with an autographed pair of his signature kicks with the inscription, “’MVP’ Cuts from the ‘MVB.’”
Despite his success, the Fil-Am remains true to his roots. The wall on the garage in Vallejo where his career began has names of guys whose hair he still cuts to this day.
“Coming back to this and seeing this shows hard work and dedication and loyalty. A lot of my clients remained loyal and that only made me want to be loyal to everybody else.”