When you hear the name Sue Bird, the first thing that likely comes to mind is basketball greatness. With a career spanning over two decades, Bird has shattered records, won many championships, and earned a spot among the all-time greats.
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Early Years: Rising Star
Born in Syosset, New York, Bird was not another kid with a basketball dream; she was a prodigy in the making. She began at a young age and realized fast that she had a natural gift.
But like any great athlete, she knew that talent alone wouldn’t get her far. She needed to couple her innate abilities with hard work, dedication, and an unyielding will to improve.
As a young player, she faced all the challenges that come with balancing school, friendships, and a budding career. Yet, she always kept her eyes on the prize.
Her time at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens was transformative. She was learning how to be a leader on the court. The exposure she gained during these formative years was invaluable. They laid the groundwork for what would be a bright career, and it became clear that she was due for greatness.
When it was time for college, Sue picked the University of Connecticut (UConn) — a choice that would shape her career. Playing for the UConn Huskies, she turned heads. She improved her teammates’ skills too. During her time there, the Huskies won two NCAA Championships. Her strength in leadership on the court was unmistakable from this point on.
In 2002, Sue was the first pick in the WNBA draft by the Seattle Storm. She was runner-up for Rookie of the Year, and that was only the start.
She helped lead the Storm to four WNBA championships (2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020). Over the years, she became known for her clutch moments and nailing three-pointers like it was nobody’s business.
Her talent extended to international stages. She represented the United States in basketball at the Olympics and brought home five gold medals. Yes, five!
She was at the top in women’s basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which were actually held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This added to her previous wins in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Her and teammate Diana Taurasi became the first and only basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals.
Throughout her career, she’s broken many records. She became the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists, showcasing her playmaking abilities. In 11 All-Star teams, she was also named to the All-WNBA First Team five times. This is proof of her consistency and high performance over two decades in the league.
Beyond her on-court accomplishments, Bird has also been making strides in the business world. In 2022, she became a minority investor in NJ/NY Gotham FC, a National Women’s Soccer League club.
By stepping into counseling, she shows her involvement even after her retirement. Sue knows that investing in female athleticism as someone with power goes a long way. She proves time and time again that her leadership skills go beyond the basketball court and into her real life.
Bird has used her corporate prowess to advocate for social issues and equality. In 2020, she got engaged to soccer star Megan Rapinoe, another famous athlete and activist. They’ve become one of the most iconic sports duos of their time. For example, they became the first same-sex couple to appear on ESPN The Magazine’s cover.
In 2021, Sue also co-founded Togethxr with fellow Olympians like Alex Morgan and Simone Manuel. This venture aims to uplift the voices and stories of women in the field. Instead of getting overshadowed or sidelined in mainstream media, there’s now a platform for it.
They seek to not only spotlight female athletes but also inspire a new generation of girls to chase their dreams. The influence of a famous figure can extend far beyond their accolades, impacting society on a broader scale.
In 2021, Sue Bird hinted at retirement, bringing a close to a remarkable career that inspired countless young players. Even though she’s left the court, her influence will go on for years to come.
A five-time Olympic gold winner and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, she’s had an incredible 20-year career. She is not only one of the greatest women’s basketball players; she’s one of the best of all time.