As part of the NBA All-Star 2020,12 Special Olympics athletes from around the world–including two from Virginia–will be joined by NBA& WNBA players and legends for the ninth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Basketball Game. The demonstration game will feature athletes with and without intellectual disabilities playing on the same team to highlight the game’s values of inclusion and acceptance.
One of those Virginia athletes, Chris Carter described the feeling when he saw the email notifying him of the opportunity to go to Chicago, "I look it and it says and I quote 'Congratulations! you are nominated to play in the NBA Cares game.' I literally ran around my entire apartment buck-naked like 12 times just to make sure it was straight."
Watch Chris and Emilio's story here.
For Floyd County native Blake Hairston, the opportunity of a lifetime will also serve as a way to inspire other athletes. For athletes that hope to have an opportunity like this one, “I’ll keep telling them to keep grinding and grinding. Don’t ever give up," Hairston said. "Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can not do. Prove them wrong.”
You can WATCH Blake's story here.
Meet the Participants
NBA and WNBA Participants
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces Forward
Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks Guard
Cheyenne Parker, Chicago Sky Forward
Horace Grant, Chicago Bulls Legend
Toni Kukoč, Chicago Bulls Legend
Dikembe Mutombo,Hall of Famer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador
Muggsy Bogues, NBA Legend
Jameer Nelson, NBA Legend
Cappie Pondexter, WNBA Legend
Special Olympics Athletes
Sean Annan, Canada
Jasmine Burnham, U.S. (Florida)
Christopher Carter, U.S. (Virginia)
Robert Doyle, U.S. (Nevada)
Amber Free, U.S. (Texas)
Blake Hairston, U.S. (Virginia)
Injae Kim, South Korea
Tamara Medarts, Belgium
Carrie Nykiel, U.S. (Illinois)
Israel Scilabba, U.S. (Pennsylvania)
Wyatt Spalding, U.S. (Nebraska)
Nate Wade, U.S. (Colorado)
Andy Grammer, Special Olympics Ambassador and Honorory Coach
60 Local Special Olympics Athletes
The Unified Game will take place prior to the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Rufflesat Wintrust Arena and stream live on the NBA’s official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nba/. Special Olympics International will also receive a $4,000 donation for every four-point shot made from behind the Ruffles Four-Point Ridge Line during the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, with a minimum donation of $40,000.