Warriors

Ayesha Curry named grand marshal of Sonoma Grand Prix

ayesha-curry-sonoma.jpg

Ayesha Curry named grand marshal of Sonoma Grand Prix

Celebrity chef and popular Bay Area personality Ayesha Curry has been named Grand Marshal of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway, Sept. 16-18.

Curry, wife of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, began her career as the creator of the popular food and lifestyle blog Little Lights of Mine and is now moving on to become one of the rising stars in the culinary world. Curry has guest judged on popular Food Network shows such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Chopped Junior, and recently authored her first cookbook, The Seasoned Life, which will be published on September 20 from Little, Brown and Company. She is also slated to host her own TV show on Food Network, Ayesha’s Homemade. 

In June, Curry teamed up with chef and restaurateur Michael Mina to open International Smoke, a pop-up restaurant in San Francisco’s Mina Test Kitchen, with additional locations set to open in the next several months. Curry also boasts a meal-delivery startup, curated a collection of baby footwear and has her own signature line of olive oils, vinegars and aprons sold at retail.

In her role as Grand Marshal of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Curry will take part in pre-race activities on Sunday, Sept. 18, and give the official command of, "Drivers, Start Your Engines." This will mark her first visit to a motorsports event.

“This will be my first time going to Sonoma Raceway and a Verizon Indycar Series event, so I’m very excited,” said Curry. “You can’t beat seeing a sporting event like this in person, and I’m sure it will be an incredible experience. It’s an honor to be named Grand Marshal; I can’t wait to say “Drivers, start your engines!”

The Curry family quickly grabbed local and international attention during the Golden State Warriors’ record-setting run to the 2015 NBA Championship. In addition to daughter Riley, a popular addition to Steph’s post-game press conferences, the Currys welcomed a second daughter, Ryan, in 2015.

“We are very excited to have Ayesha join us for the GoPro Grand Prix weekend,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “She has emerged over the last two years as one of the Bay Area’s most dynamic personalities and culinary stars, and she’ll be a perfect fit for such a high-energy event in the Sonoma Wine Country.”

Sonoma Raceway media services

Warriors' Steph Curry cements himself as social justice leader in NBA

Warriors' Steph Curry cements himself as social justice leader in NBA

Steph Curry stood on a makeshift stage on the campus of Howard University on Monday afternoon to announce his latest venture. 

Over the next six years, the Warriors star will fund the university's golf program, helping the Bison field a Division I team for the first time in school history. The commitment is expected to revitalize both the men and women's programs at the historically black university. 

Throughout his career, Curry has been supplanted in the national conversation by LeBron James and others as the basketball leader of social change. But in recent years, the six-time All-Star has become among the leaders on a variety of issues. With his latest contribution to the historically black institution, Curry is proving why he should be among the leading NBA voices in social justice. 

The guard's relationship with the university started in January, when Curry hosted a screening of Emanuel - a documentary about the Emanuel AME Church shooting that he produced. Curry's latest contribution to the university includes a seven-figure endorsement to the golf program that will be paid out in installments to give Howard time to raise an endowment fund to make the golf program self-sustainable. 

"This is one of the most generous gifts in the history of Howard University," athletic director Kery Davis said.

Curry's contribution to Howard is historically on-brand. The opening of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) started in the 1800s as more of a necessity for blacks. With African Americans barred from attending white schools, black churches -- with the help of the American Missionary Association and the Freedmen’s Bureau -- helped build and advance a black education. From 1861 to 1900, more than 90 black colleges were established, including Howard in 1867. Now, more than 150 years later, Curry, a black man, is helping advance the university through sports.

Prior to Curry's involvement, Howard fielded a Division II team that was discontinued in the 1970s. With Curry's financing, the Bison men's team will play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, while the women will play as independents. In addition, the teams will be outfitted by Under Armour -- the shoe company Curry endorses -- and will have three scholarship athletes, an idea that was born on the night of the January premiere. 

"The idea around re-creating Howard's golf team and turning it into a Division I program for men and women was born on that specific night," Curry said. "Now, seven and a half or eight months later, we're here."

For the last half-decade, James has been at the forefront of the NBA's social justice conversation. In 2014, days after black teen Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Florida by George Zimmerman, James -- along with his Miami Heat teammates -- posted a picture in team-issued hoodies. Two years later, standing beside Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, James opened the ESPYs by condemning police brutality. Recently, James has put his money behind change, opening the I Promise school in Akron, OH. Before last season, James even defended Curry on Twitter, calling President Donald Trump a "bum" after Trump "disinvited" the Warriors from the White House after they won the 2017 title. 

While James has been (correctly) celebrated for his actions, Curry has been putting together a portfolio of his own. The guard has been a part of former President Barack Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative aimed at addressing "persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential." Just before last season, Curry raised more than $21,000 for the family of Oakland native Nia Wilson, who was stabbed to death at a BART station. 

Even before his actions against social change were public, seeds of Curry's activism were beginning to manifest. Before Game 5 of an NBA first-round playoff series against the Clippers -- during the Donald Sterling saga -- Curry was among a group of players ready to boycott a game if the owner wasn't banned by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. 

"I remember everybody talking like if Adam Silver don't come down with a tough enough post and we don't think it's right, we're not playing tonight," Warriors forward Draymond Green said.

Added former Warrior Andre Iguodala: "If it came to it, I think we were ready. We were willing and ready."

Curry's absence from James' stature may be his own doing. While marketed as a clean-cut, baby-faced player that appealed to children, Curry's voice noticeably was absent when he gave a PC answer when asked about a North Carolina bathroom bill that discriminated against transgender people, drawing the ire of LGBT groups. 

Ironically, Trump might be simultaneously both the uniting force and a call to action players like Curry needed to grow their voice. Two weeks after Trump was inaugurated, then-Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said that the President could be an "asset" to the United States. Curry then joked that said he agreed with the notion, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset, even saying he'd reconsider his deal with Under Armour.

“If there is a situation where I can look at myself in the mirror and say they don’t have my best intentions, they don’t have the right attitude about taking care of people,” Curry told The Mercury News in 2017. “If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am. So that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up. If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.”

[RELATED: Warriors were ready to boycott game after Sterling tape]

Twenty-one months ago, Curry's former teammate Kevin Durant sat along the north baseline of the Warriors practice facility and openly pondered his identity as a black man in this country 

"Finally waking up, to be honest," Durant said. "Just kind of seeing how rough it is for an average black man."

"I see how far we get pushed down. For me, I kind of grew up in this basketball world, whereas my talent kind of overrides what I look like."

Like Durant, Curry took time to find his voice. And now, after yet another contribution, he should be among the NBA's faces for social justice. 

Watch NBA rookies try to guess Warriors guard Jordan Poole's nickname

Watch NBA rookies try to guess Warriors guard Jordan Poole's nickname

The best part of any of the sports reference websites is when you discover the nicknames of athletes, and whether the height listed is accurate.

But some might not even be aware of these nicknames, even Ty Jerome was unaware he's been dubbed as "Milk."

NBA TV had some fun quizzing rookies and their classmates about the nicknames Basketball Reference had listed on the website. And it went about as you would expect it to be:

Warriors rookie Jordan Poole's "Microwave" nickname was guessed rather easily.

The microwave nickname came when he was asked if he knew who the original "Microwave," Vinne Johnson was. He was young and didn't quite know who he was, but it ended up sticking. 

Plus, the fact that he scores fast and "heats up" quickly adds to the comparison.

[RELATED: Iggy catches Steph looking stunned in photo]

He likes it, even suggesting "The Microwave Part II."

If you don't know, now you know.