How Elena Delle Donne's sister inspired the WNBA star to partner with Nike for new FlyEase shoe
Delle Donne says her sister has carried her through life
Elena Delle Donne is a small forward for the Washington Mystics, a former second overall draft pick, a WNBA champion, a two-time WNBA MVP, an Olympic gold medalist and a little sister to someone who has helped shape her life and her career choices. Delle Donne's sister, Lizzie, has cerebral palsy, autism and is deaf and blind.
But the sisters have a bond that goes much deeper than words spoken. Elena and Lizzie use touch to communicate and have done so for 30 years.
"Touch is everything between us, it's how we have our sisterhood," Delle Donne explains in a new video with Nike.
Delle Donne carries her sister throughout the video, the two smiling through the entire walk. Still, Elena wants to make sure people know that it is actually Lizzie doing most of the heavy lifting:
"My sister is the inspiration for all of my choices. She gives me strength. Everyone thinks I carry her, but she's the one carrying me."
While her sister can not do certain things on her own, Lizzie is capable of a great deal and helps Elena when the WNBA star is struggling.
"My sister's been carrying me my whole life. She's always there for me when I need her most," the 30-year-old says
At 6-foot-5, the WNBA star is quite literally looking down on most people, but when it comes to her sister she says she always feels the opposite, noting that, "she is the big sister, I'm the little one looking up."
On HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel earlier in year, she explained what is at the heart of her relationship with Lizzie.
"Lizzie doesn't know that I play basketball," Delle Donne said. "She doesn't know that I'm 6-5. She just knows that I am one of her people and a really important person in her life. And that's all I want to be."
In the past, Delle Donne has said it was difficult to comes to terms with having, "a body that could do a great many things" that the body of her older sister, Lizzie, couldn't.
Delle Donne has flipped the script from what is not possible for her sister to do to what they can do together. And in the process, Elena is helping others like her sister have a more accessible life.
Partnering with Nike, the WNBA star has helped design an accessible shoe, the Nike Air Zoom UNVRS, that does not require the use of hands to put on and fits different foot shapes. It uses new FlyEase technology, similar to the of the Seattle Seahawks.
Delle Donne and her wife Amanda have already said they plan to take care of Liz once her parents are unable to.
"That's my girl," Delle Donne said. "I'm not going to let anybody else be taking Liz in. She'll be with me."
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