‘Your favorite athlete’s favorite jeweler’: Top NFL draft picks wear custom Leo Khusro
The NFL draft is all about making a good first impression. And former Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner did just that Thursday.
Gardner took a walk down the red carpet in Las Vegas with stunning jewelry when the New York Jets selected him fourth overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. His diamond-encrusted chains featured a sauce bottle with the words "SAUCE."
"It's a new addition man and even more sauce," Gardner told Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett on the red carpet. "You can't have too much sauce, this is all-purpose sauce right here."
Houston-based jeweler Leo Khusro — also known as Leo Frost — cooked up this particular sauce, and the chains caught a lot of attention on social media. Many raved about the creativity as the perfect accessory for the top cornerback.
"Shout out to Leo Frost," Gardner said. "He had the vision just like me. It was a great collab."
This isn’t the first time Khusro has made NFL headlines, and Gardner wasn’t the first draft pick of the night wearing one of his creations.
A total of 31 draft-eligible players wore Khusro exclusives, including No. 2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions), No. 6 overall pick Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu (Carolina Panthers), No. 8 Drake London (Atlanta Falcons) and No. 11 Chris Olave (New Orleans Saints).
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow also has multiple accessories from the young jeweler.
Khusro crafted a 14.94 carat pendant with VVS diamonds ahead of Super Bowl 56 for Burrow. Khusro, 26, detailed the creative process to USA TODAY Sports+ earlier this year.
“If you’ve seen them in the NFL, they’ve probably bought jewelry from me,” Khusro said.
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Gardner’s sauce bottle can actually hold real sauce inside, according to Khusro. But Gardner plans to roll up his draft card and put it in the diamond bottle instead.
Ekwonu’s “Ickey” pendant includes personal details, including the colors of the Nigerian flag and 704, the area code of Charlotte, N.C., where he was born.
”It embodies where he's from, his background, his nickname,” Khusro said. “This piece is him."
London received a chain and a set of diamond grillz, which required a unique visit to create.
"I went to go see my boy Drake London and we sat down outside his house. We put him in the back of a trunk in a Porsche and we took his molds. A month later I told him his grillz are ready a day before the draft,” Khusro said.
And as for Olave?
"He went crazy bro,” Khusro told GQ while showing off a bejeweled cross. “My man Chris is a child of God. So on the back of this piece, all over it says 'God's plan.'"
But one request stood out among Khusro’s impressive roster. Michigan-born Hutchinson honored his great grandfather, World War II veteran Joseph R. Bernardi, with custom dog tags that twinkled when the Lions selected him Thursday night. Hutchinson wore one tag while gifting his mother, Melissa, the matching necklace.
“These are special because this is probably the piece in this draft that has the most legacy behind it,” Khusro told GQ while holding up the engraved dog tags. “Aiden's great grandfather was one of the guys that made it back home. Aiden is actually named Aiden Joseph Bernardi Hutchinson, named after his great grandfather. So this piece, like I said, has so much legacy behind it, so much history.
”These pieces will probably bring a lot of great memories to their family, a lot of joy. Just for him to be able to wear this on draft day, hold the name, it's really cool.“