The Gaston family has had quite the year. 23-year-old Isis—you probably know her as Ice Spice, the freshly Grammy-nominated rapper—is one of the most adored pop stars on the planet. Her rise from princess of the Bronx music scene to worldwide phenomenon has been well-documented. But did you know that her younger brother, Joey, 16, is a bit of a local legend himself?
The diminutive junior quarterback (5’8”, 160 pounds) at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, New York not only led his team to a playoff victory on Friday night, he’s also signed to Next Models, which has allowed the avid selfie-taker an opportunity to pursue his main non-football hobby. When he is on the gridiron, he’s dodging both defenders and jokes about his ultra-famous sibling, all the while maintaining the smile that helped him become a model in the first place. Joey finds himself in a bit of a High School Musical situation now, not wanting to choose between his sport and his art, and he’s determined to continue both after high school. Growing up, he was drawn to prestigious college programs like Clemson—“That looks like a lit place to be”—and later Oregon because “they let the quarterback air it out and they got some cool uniforms.”
While signing day is still a ways away for Gaston, he did have his first official visit with GQ. Sitting in front of a row of arcade machines in his family’s basement, sporting an Iona Prep hoodie and glistening chain, the young man told us everything about his iced-out world.
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GQ: What is life like for you right now, as the star quarterback who just so happens to also be Ice Spice’s brother?
Joey Gaston: Life is amazing, to be honest. Recently I had a whole bunch of people reach out to me—famous people, old friends—being like, “Yo, I heard that was your sister. Da da da da, how is it?” It’s cool, man. Just living life. School is normal. Everything is good on the football field, I hear a couple comments, but besides that everything is amazing. It makes my life so much fun and adds a lot of character to it.
What kind of comments? Ice Spice-related trash talk?
Our first game, I already knew what I was getting into for the rest of the season. I got tackled and a good friend of mine was like, “You thought I was feeling you?” And that was a good friend of mine! I started smiling, there was no hate at all. But it’s like, aight, let’s see what happens next play. Next play I get a little ten-yard gain. I’m feeling myself a little bit. It’s competition and it adds a little more fun to the game.
Recently we played a team and I looked up in the opposing student section. I never look up at the student section. I’m locked in. But my teammate next to me was like, “You see what they wearing?” I look over there and saw nothing but orange wigs! The whole student section had orange wigs on! Aight, we gon’ see what’s gon’ happen. By the second half, we were blowing them out. I think it was 42-7, something like that. I start seeing the orange wigs come off. They were embarrassed.
At the end of the game, though, it’s love. It’s never disrespectful. On the way back to the locker room they gave much respect. A bunch of little kids like Joey, Joey, Joey! Can we take a picture? Of course, no problem. But when I was taking off my shoulder pads, one of my teammates came over and said he had a surprise for me. A kid in the student section gave him one of the orange wigs and said give it to Joey. Bet. When he gave it to me in the locker room, I said, “No way I got an orange wig!” I actually have it right here with me! [holds up said orange wig]
What is school like for you? Do people start acting different if they only know you as Ice Spice’s brother, compared to people you’ve known for years who just know you as Joey?
When everything started popping off and I was doing my thing on the football field, I kind of kept it to myself. I’m not really the type to brag. Once her high school yearbook photo got leaked and people started seeing that last name and connecting faces, people that I grew up with were like, hold on…that’s your sister? They get a little mad! Why you never told me that was your sister before? What’s going on here? Come on man, I don’t go around telling people that’s my sister. You don’t go around talking about your sister, you know what I mean? It’s the same way.