WNBA legend Sue Bird made headlines recently when she joined the NBA’s Denver Nuggets in a major front office role as basketball operations associate. While she is still starting point guard for the Seattle Storm, she’s now become a trailblazer for women in men’s sports too.
Off the court, Bird is a trailblazer in the community as well. Bird’s support for children in the Seattle area is just one reason she’s been honored with several charitable awards over the years, including the Moyer Foundation Humanitarian Award bestowed on her in 2015 by former Seattle Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer — no stranger to philanthropy himself.
Ever since the Storm drafted her in 2002, Bird’s desire to mentor kids has led to her involvement with various Seattle youth programs, including the Boys & Girls Club of King County, which earned her a WNBA Community Assist Award in 2010, and Marysville-Pilchuck High School, where she helped the girls basketball team recover from the aftermath of a school shooting in 2015 and taught them how to become leaders in their own communities.
Empowerment is an issue central to Bird’s ethos. For the past several years, she has partnered with Z Girls, an organization she named as her favorite non-profit in a recent docuseries for The Players’ Tribune. Z Girls leads programs for young female athletes to support their development in sports, life skills and empowerment. This past summer, Bird celebrated her fourth year of partnership with the organization by meeting with a group of over twenty girls from the program, teaching them skills in all three Z Girls focus areas.
Bird uses her fame as a platform for advocacy too. One of her many community partnerships includes Athlete Ally, an organization with a mission “to end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sport and to activate the athletic community to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQ equality.” Bird and her girlfriend, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, are both ambassadors for the organization, which they praise for how it empowers both gay and straight athletes to come together for a common goal.
Generous with her time, Bird has stressed that her commitment to running basketball camps and other events is one reason she doesn’t tend to benefit from the same amount of free time other professional athletes often experience. With too many philanthropic endeavors to list, a quick Google search of Bird’s charitable activity demonstrates her unwavering and longstanding commitment to her community.
If Bird exhibits the same success in her new job that she’s shown in her other two roles — basketball player and community advocate — the Nuggets will be the beneficiary of one of the most dedicated athletes in professional sports.