On the Court with NBA Legends

For many Special Olympics athletes, the chance to train and compete in a sport is a blessing that is rarely offered in their communities. For some Special Olympics athletes, even more exciting opportunities comes along.

Playing with the Pros

Special Olympics Senegal athlete Khody Kone met NBA Legend Darryl Dawkins at a warm-up session for the team of Special Olympics athletes from around the world.

That was the case for Khody Kone, a Special Olympics athlete from Senegal, who played basketball with superstars from the NBA and WNBA during the NBA All Star weekend in New Orleans, USA. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet famous people, but it was also a way to show to a worldwide audience that Special Olympics athletes can play, and play well.

She was one of 11 Special Olympics athletes from around the world who traveled to the United States to play basketball on teams made up of people with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics offers Unified Sports in communities worldwide, and the NBA has shown its strong support by including a unified game during the All-Stars weekend for the last three years.

Growing Support for Unified Sports

After scoring in the Unified game, Kone got high fives from pro players Elena Delle Donne and Dikembe Mutombo.

The game was aired live on ESPN3, which added even more thrill to the weekend. ESPN and Special Olympics are working together to use the power of sports to promote an environment of social inclusion and acceptance through the Special Olympics Unified Sports program. With a multi-million dollar financial and in-kind investment, ESPN is supporting Special Olympics’ goal of registering one million Unified Sports participants--athletes with intellectual disabilities, teammates without intellectual disabilities and coaches--by 2015.

Africa's Unified Sports program is growing rapidly, with close to 6,000 Unified Sports partners as of 2013. The ESPN broadcast of Khody Kone's game can only help to increase that growth.