LOS ANGELES — Special Olympics athletes from around the world, including a pair from Southern California, will get a piece of the NBA All-Star weekend spotlight.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, 12 Special Olympics athletes will show fans the unifying power of sport and team up with NBA and WNBA legends, players and sports personalities on Saturday morning for the seventh annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified basketball game at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Here’s how the teams, divided into Gladiators and Stars, will shape up:
Special Olympics athletes
|Butti Al Sheezawi, United Arab Emirates||Treven Cole, Utah|
|Oliver Boy, Deutschland||Robert Hall, Southern California|
|Thomas Brautigam, Michigan||Phillipo Howery, Arizona|
|Christopher Lopez, New York||Anna Thain, Utah|
|Jasmine Taylor, Florida||Kaprisha Trotter, Southern California|
|Saška Vujičić, Serbia||George Wanjiku, Kenya|
NBA/WNBA Unified talent and coaches
|Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics||Muggsy Bogues, NBA legend|
|Horace Grant, NBA legend||Skylar Diggins-Smith, Dallas Wings|
|Lindsey Harding, WNBA legend||Stefanie Dolson, Chicago Sky|
|Ron Harper, NBA legend||Rashard Lewis, NBA legend|
|Kyle Kuzma (coach), Los Angeles Lakers||Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Hall of Famer|
|Jayson Tatum (coach), Boston Celtics||Buddy Hield (coach), Sacramento Kings|
|Larry Nance Jr. (coach), Cleveland Cavaliers|
Kaprisha Trotter, 26, of Carson has competed in the South Bay area for six years. Robert Hall, 20, of Huntington Beach has competed with the Special Olympics Orange County region for two years.
For the first time, the Unified game will also be streamed live on the NBA Cares Facebook page. Pregame ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
The Unified game is part of a global partnership between the NBA and Special Olympics, which began more than 30 years ago when the league helped introduce basketball to Special Olympics.
Prior to the game, 80 athletes from Special Olympics Southern California will get instruction from some pros in an NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Clinic, led by the Unified game athletes, NBA and WNBA talent.
Unified Clinic participants are expected to include 2015 WNBA most valuable player Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), three-time WNBA champion and legend Swin Cash, four-time NBA champion Horace Grant and NBA Cares ambassador Felipe Lopez.
The Unified game participants will then get the All-Star weekend VIP treatment, including an invitation to watch the All-Star Saturday night festivities such as the slam dunk contest and 3-point shootout. The following day, they will watch the league’s best in the 67th NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center.
About Special Olympics Southern California:
Special Olympics Southern California enriches the lives of more than 32,250 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, leadership, and health programs. Founded in 1969 by Olympic decathlon gold medalist Rafer Johnson, Special Olympics Southern California provides free year-round sports training and competitions to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Participation develops improved physical fitness and motor skills and greater self-confidence. Special Olympics has become the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Special Olympics Southern California has earned a 4-star ranking from Charity Navigator for exceeding industry standards. This ranking is the highest Charity Navigator offers to an organization and is given because Special Olympics has demonstrated strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency. Learn how you can get involved at www.sosc.org.