WNBA's Griner takes on bullying in a big way
On the court, Brittney Griner certainly makes a difference.
The 6-foot-8 center for the Phoenix Mercury, known for her dunks since her college days at Baylor, had 11 rebounds and 5 blocks Wednesday in an 87-69 win over the visiting Chicago Sky.
She is averaging 15.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, and a WNBA-leading 4.1 blocks per game. Last week, she set the WNBA record for most blocks in a game with 11 against Tulsa.
Off the court, Griner is trying to have just as much of an impact.
She is taking on bullying, staring it down like a hated opponent.
Griner has written "In My Skin," a book about her life that chronicles her struggles growing up gay, and she is in the process of creating an anti-bullying smartphone application. Griner says she was bullied and picked on relentlessly as a child for being different.
The app, which will be called BG: BU, is a resource for kids who are being bullied. It's also helpful for their parents and teachers.
"I definitely got bullied as a kid and teased, and I didn't really have an outlet or a resource that I could reach out to in order to get the proper help that I needed," Griner said. "I don't want any kid to go through the same problems and the same obstacles that I went through. I want to give kids and parents a safe zone to get help."
The app will offer counseling and advice about how to deal with bullies and how to help someone who is being bullied. It will also create a support system for victims of bullying.
"When I was 16, if I would have had an app on my phone where I could reach out and talk to somebody who lived the same struggles I lived, it would have helped me out tremendously," Griner said. "I would have been able to relate to someone. It would have changed my life."
In her book, Griner details some of the bullying she endured. She says that people would call her a boy, and insist that she wore baggy shorts to conceal male genitalia.
Her classmates talked about "my deeper voice, bigger hands, bigger feet," she said. "They'd say, 'She has an Adam's apple. She's a man, a man.' "
Griner got to the point where she contemplated suicide.
"I didn't want to be here. I was all alone," Griner told espnW. "I was getting picked on. It was like, 'What's the point of even going on anymore.'
"I had a couple of nights when I wanted to just end it all and it sucked, and no one knew. People are shocked to know I was at that point. And yeah, I was at rock bottom."
Since coming out last year, Griner has been on top of the world. Her book has been therapeutic for her. So has living an authentic life.
An excerpt from Griner's book reads: "It seems so stupid when I look back on it now, how much I wanted to be part of the in-crowd. You know what? Screw the in-crowd. Trying so hard to be like everyone else, to talk and act like everyone else, to be something you're not, is exhausting and self-destructive. Every voice matters, and being different is a good thing. Who wants to be the same as everybody else?"
Former Stevenson star Tamika Catchings is finally returning to the hardwood.
The Indiana Fever forward has missed the first 17 games of the WNBA season with a sore back but has been cleared for today's game against the San Antonio Silver Stars (wnba.com).
Catchings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a WNBA MVP and a five-time defensive player of the year, is beginning her 14th WNBA season. She led Stevenson to an IHSA state title in 1995 and won an NCAA championship at Tennessee.
Follow Patricia on Twitter at @babcockmcgraw