Yesterday University of Missouri’s defensive end Michael Sam was selected as the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award, which is given to individuals who transcend sports, will be presented at The 2014 Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPYs) on July 16th. Other recipients of the award include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Billie Jean King.
Michael Sam made history in February by becoming the first Division I college football player in history to come out as gay. Sam, who was named the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-SEC selection during his senior year at Missouri, is expected to be picked in the NFL Draft in the upcoming days.
Sam joined a growing list of notable athletes who have come out recently, including Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, Orlando Cruz, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey, and Tom Daley.
From Clutch Magazine: Nike is appealing to its consumer base of who wear mens clothing through its newest spokesperson, Brittney Griner. Griner, the 22 year-old number one draft pick for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, will model menswear for the brand.
ESPNreports: ”Griner’s deal is within this range; what makes it groundbreaking is the freedom. She will wear apparel branded as menswear, including the skateboarding line Nike SB, and she is allowed to pursue nontraditional marketing deals with outside companies.”
Wearing mens clothing is a natural fit for the 6’8″ basketball player, who is the first openly-gay athlete to sign with Nike. She says: “I used to do the whole baggy, hard-core, I’m-a-boy look. Then I went through a preppy phase. Now I have the athletic, bow-tie look. I found my style.”
ESPN writer Kate Fagan recognizes the significance of Nike and Griner’s decision, saying: “Androgynous models are coveted in high-end fashion, but the trend toward gender-neutral clothing has only just begun to reach the sports world, with NBA stars Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade blurring the lines in their tight jeans and fitted sweaters.”
Brittney Griner, left, shakes hands with WNBA President Laurel J. Richie after the Phoenix Mercury selected Griner as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA basketball draft, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Bristol, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Brittney Griner left an indelible mark on women’s college basketball. Now she’s ready to take on the pros. The Phoenix Mercury took Baylor’s star center with the top pick in the WNBA draft Monday night. Despite knowing she was going first, the two-time AP Player of the Year admitted she was extremely nervous.
“It’s a dream come true, I’m like a little kid in Disney World the first time meeting all the characters,” Griner said. “Sitting at the table they said 15 seconds and my heart started beating so fast. I was grabbing the tablecloth underneath.”
The 6-foot-8 phenom finished as the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history, with 3,283 points. She is the top shot-blocker ever, shattering both the men’s and women’s college marks with 748. She also had a record 18 dunks — including 11 this season. WNBA president Laurel Richie opened the draft offering the league’s thoughts and prayers to those affected by the bombings in Boston. She said earlier in the evening that the WNBA had discussions whether to hold the draft, deciding to go ahead with it.
And then soon after the draft started she announced Griner as the first choice.
WACO, Texas (AP) — Brittney Griner certainly knows how to provide a farewell to remember — and an embrace Baylor coach Kim Mulkey will likely never forget. There were three impressive dunks on a night Griner almost could have had more in her final home game.
“Tonight felt like senior night. Tonight was better,” Griner said. ” The three dunks. Just going out the way we did. Not everybody’s lucky, and we were. We gave the crowd a good game.”
Griner had 33 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, becoming the first woman to make three dunks in a game, as the defending national champion Lady Bears rolled past Florida State 85-47 Tuesday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
With former President George W. Bush part of the crowd packed into the Ferrell Center for the final home game of Griner’s impressive career and four other seniors, the 6-foot-8 two-time All-American delivered in spectacular fashion — with one dunk before halftime and two more in a 79-second span right before coming out of the game for good.
“It’s always exciting to see when Brittney dunks. I always get excited. We always get excited,” junior point guard Odyssey Sims said. “Everyone gets pumped. It’s nothing we’ve never seen. She’s just phenomenal.”
Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a nation’s-best 57 games in a row at home. Sims had 11 points and Kimetria Hayden 10. The Lady Bears (34-1) are in the NCAA round of 16 for the fourth year in a row. They play Louisville (26-8) on Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
Griner’s opening slam came on a break after a Florida State basket. Freshman guard Niya Johnson passed ahead to Griner, who took one step without a dribble before slamming it home with 4 minutes left in the first half for a 43-18 lead — sending the partisan crowd of 9,652 into a frenzy as she ran down the court with her mouth open and clearly enjoying the moment.
Baylor’s Brittney Griner (42) celebrates after breaking the NCAA women’s career record for blocks (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
WACO, Texas (AP) — Brittney Griner arrived at Baylor known as the girl who could dunk. The 6-foot-8 Griner has obliged over the years with some rim-rattling highlights. Even in her last regular-season home game, she made a quick spin move around a Kansas State defender on the baseline for a one-handed slam. While the 14 career dunks are impressive — fun, too — Griner always wanted to be known for more than just slamming the ball. Add in all the blocks, points and championships, and she has indeed proven to be so much more in four seasons with the Lady Bears.
“A lot of people come up to me all the time and just tell me, just compliment me on my game, other than the dunks and the scoring,” she said. “Just how I find my teammates and just everything, how I move on the court. That let me know right there that, hey, I’m kind of getting away from the YouTube dunker girl.” Going into her final NCAA tournament, the defending national champion Lady Bears (32-1) are again the No. 1 overall seed. They have a nation’s-best 55-game winning streak at home, where they play their tourney opener Sunday night against SWAC champion Prairie View (17-14).
Griner is the Big 12 career scoring leader with 3,203 points, 190 short of the NCAA record with no more than six games left. She has a nearly 7 1/2-foot wingspan that contributes greatly to the record she really cherishes: 736 blocked shots, more than any other man or woman ever in the NCAA.