2 Virginia Athletes Headed to NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago


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."

Two athletes on a basketball court
Chris and his coach Emilio Alonso are headed out to Chicago together to compete in the NBA Cares Unified Sports Basketball Game.

Watch Chris and Emilio's story here.
You can WATCH Blake'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.”

Athlete jumping with a basketball in one hand


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

Tune In

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 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.