MUSKEGON, Mich. — If you had a choice in life between two very different career paths, would it be football or fashion?
A Muskegon man recently came to that exact crossroad in his life and had no problem trading being a star halfback for measuring hemlines, developing a unique clothing line that's gaining in popularity and quickly becoming "in vogue" nationwide.
In 2014, Dereko Riley scored his last touchdown wearing a Reeths-Puffer High School football jersey. He'd graduate the following spring and enroll at Davenport University, where he continued to play the game he loved.
"Football was all I knew," said Riley, 24. "While I was playing [at Davenport], I started thinking about life after football and what my true passion was."
Riley says he'd always been interested in the fashion world and possibly designing his own clothing line.
"I decided to be true to myself and do what I loved," Riley said. "I took a leap of faith."
Riley spent a few years designing all sorts of clothes - from five and six-pocket joggers to stacked leggings to hoodies.
In 2019, from his home in Muskegon, Riley started Yelir333 clothing line, comprised of all his designs.
"The title was created based off numerology in angel numbers," added Riley. "The triple threes mean, 'power of the mind and the energy that follows', and triple fours mean, 'finding love and peace within yourself.'"
There's significant meaning behind the "Yelir" name.
"Yelir is my last name spelled backwards, R-I-L-E-Y," he said.
Riley is also not afraid to take on designing challenges. In June, he was entered into a contest where it was required to create a non-fabric clothing item.
"I decided to do a piece made entirely out of real flowers," Riley said.
Riley says he'll never forget his football days, but running in the fashion world is where his passion is and he doesn't plan to give it up.
"Sometimes I'll be out and I'll see people wearing my designs," said Riley. "For me, that's a cooler feeling than scoring a touchdown."
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.