Seattle Storm

Breanna Stewart, LeBron James among five activist athletes honored by Sports Illustrated

Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm forward and the 2020 WNBA’s Finals MVP Breanna Stewart is among five activist athletes honored by Sports Illustrated as Sportsperson of the year for being 'champions on the field, champions for others off it.'

Stewart is joined by Lakers superstar LeBron James, super bowl champion and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, elite professional tennis star Naomi Osaka, and super bowl champ and Chiefs starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as this year’s SI honorees.

It’s the third time James has been honored as SI's Sportsperson of the year after previously being selected back in 2012 and 2016.

As for Stewart, the two-time WNBA champion came back stronger than ever this year after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles injury. She led Seattle to its 4th WNBA championship in franchise history, while also earning the WNBA Finals MVP honors once again. She had received the award back in 2018 as well.

For the season, she averaged 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.

Those numbers are impressive in themselves, but she was also one of the biggest activists in the women’s game.

 

In Sports Illustrated’s, 'meet Your 2020 Sportsperson of the Year Winners: Breanna Stewart,' Megan Rapinoe wrote about her time witnessing Stewart in the ‘Wubble’ and how much the 26-year-old WNBA star contributed both on and off the court.

Rapinoe wrote:

What struck me watching Breanna Stewart take the microphone before the first game of the WNBA season was her willingness to step up in that moment.

She could have said no, and no one would have known. She was coming into the season off a torn Achilles tendon, an injury you don’t know how you’ll recover from. But she chose to take on more responsibility.

The WNBA players made sure everyone knew that they were playing for Breonna Taylor every time they went on the court this season, that they were playing to say Black Lives Matter. Honestly, I was in awe the whole time I was in the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla. The players worked to make sure not only that they had a season but also that everyone watching their season knew: This is your place to support Black women, and women, and equality. Watching Stewie stand in front of everyone before that first game and ask for 26 seconds of silence to remember Breonna Taylor, the Black woman who was that age when she was killed by police in her Louisville apartment, was powerful.

Then she went on the court and was a contender for the league’s MVP, won her second championship with the Seattle Storm and became the Finals MVP. I don’t know if you can fully appreciate how difficult it is to accomplish what she did this season. And she did it in classic, effortless Stewie fashion.

Illustration by Alexis Franklin

 

Read more from Rapinoe on Stewart’s 2020 WNBA performance and more here.