LatinXcellence: Diana Taurasi, Basketball Hero
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with People CHICA's LatinXcellence series, spotlighting the incredible people who have changed the world through their work and activism. Today we focus on Argentinian-Italian Diana Taurasi, one of the greatest female basketball players of all time.
Here at People CHICA we celebrate our Latinidad 365 days a year, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, we go extra hard. Established in 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month (also known as Latino Heritage Month or Latinx Heritage Month) recognizes the generations of Latinos who have positively influenced and enhanced our society. All month long, we'll be celebrating with a series called #LatinXcellence, highlighting people who have made a difference in Latino culture today through their art, work, and activism.
Diana Taurasi has had an outstanding career playing as a guard for the Phoenix Mercury, the team that drafted her as the first overall pick in the 2004 WNBA draft. That same year she won the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award, followed by three WNBA championships in 2007, 2009, and 2014. She was also awarded the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2009 and two WNBA Finals MVP Awards, and has won four Olympic gold medals. Fans have also voted Taurasi as one of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time.
But while basketball is her livelihood, she uses her platform as a world-class athlete as a way to help others. In 2018 she was awarded WNBA’s Community Assist Award for her work with organizations that help single mothers and for her work with the LGBTQ community. "Becoming a new mom has really made me appreciate not only my mom and everything that she did for me, but all of the moms out there who are raising young boys and girls, especially those that are doing it as single moms," Taurasi said. "Penny [Taylor] and I are doing it together and it's still a lot of work for us, so I can only imagine a day in their shoes."
In 2017, Taurasi became the WNBA all-time leading scorer and is considered one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. She's also earned the nickname "White Mamba," first coined by the late basketball star Kobe Bryant; Taurasi spoke at the memorial for him and his daughter Gianna Bryant in February.
She recently made the difficult decision to return to the league in the midst of a pandemic, saying that the uncertainty about the future of her career convinced her. "If I didn't play this season, that could have been it," Taurasi said in an interview with Arizona Sports. "When you're 38 and pounding away this long, you just don't know."
This season, along with the rest of the WNBA, she used her platform to speak out against police brutality and stand in support of the Black Lives Matter protests. "This is the issue of our lifetime," she said last month. "This is something we're not gonna put up with."