UConn basketball star uses ESPYs acceptance speech to honor Black women
University of Connecticut women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers used her acceptance speech Saturday at the ESPYs to call for more attention on her black counterparts.
“With the light that I have now as a white woman who leads a Black-led sport and celebrated here, I want to shed a light on Black women,” Bueckers said in her acceptance speech for winning the Women’s Collegiate Athlete of the Year award. “They don’t get the media coverage that they deserve. They’ve given so much to the sport, the community and society as a whole and their value is undeniable.”
“To all the incredible Black women in my life, on my teams. To Breonna Taylor and all the lives lost. To those names I have not yet learned but I hope to share — I stand behind you and I will continue to follow you and follow your lead and fight for you guys.”
— Paige Bueckers pic.twitter.com/uhGiMAYHSu
— ESPN (@espn) July 11, 2021
Bueckers also said the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), a league where players have used their platform over the past year to raise awareness about racial injustice, didn’t get enough attention from sports media outlets.
“Sports media holds the key to storylines. Sports media and sponsors tell us who was valuable, and you have told the world that I mattered today, and everyone who voted, thank you,” Bueckers said. “But I think we should use this power together to also celebrate Black women.”
The UConn guard also took time at the end of her speech to mention prominent Black women.
“So to Maria Taylor, Robin Roberts, Maya Moore, Odicci Alexander. To all the incredible Black women in my life and on my teams. To Breonna Taylor and all the lives lost, and to those names who are not yet learned, but I hope to share, I stand behind you and I continue to follow you, follow your lead and fight for you guys so I just want to say thank you for everything.”
Bueckers’ speech comes after sports network ESPN faced backlash in the past week over the fallout of NBA host Rachel Nichols’ behind-the-scenes remarks toward colleague Maria Taylor, criticizing the company’s decision of promoting Taylor to serve as the main host of their NBA halftime show.
Nichols, who is white and served as the lead sideline reporter for their NBA coverage, was demoted from her position by the network, getting replaced by uprising talent Malika Andrews, who is Black.
Bueckers, 19, received numerous accolades during her freshman season at UConn including winning 2020-21’s Naismith Player of the Year.