Brooklyn Nets’ basketball star Kyrie Irving decided to commit $1.5 million to WNBA players who chose not to play this season out of concern for coronavirus. The money will supplement their income.
"Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,'' Irving said.
While Irving is currently recovering for shoulder surgery, he has been very vocal about social justice issues and the murder of Breonna Taylor.
The money will be distributed by his newly formed fund KAI Empowerment Initiative, which also aims to provide players with a financial literacy program.
Players who wish to opt-out and receive salary benefits from KAI Empowerment Initiative must apply by August 11.
They are required to explain why they’re deciding not to play. Also, they must demonstrate that they will not be receiving any monetary support from other resources or organizations.
Additionally, if they choose to opt-out over medical reasons, the decision must be connected to coronavirus.
Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd are two players who chose to sit out this season for social justice reasons. However, they were also able to help Irving connect with other WNBA players who also wanted to opt-out.
Tina Charles and Liz Cambage were able to receive benefits for medical concerns.
All players can visit KAI Empowerment Initiative’s website to apply. Recipients will be notified on August 24.
Irving also announced that he’s partnering with Jemele Hill and Common to launch a special on PlayersTV titled #SAYHERNAME: BREONNA TAYLOR.
"I stand for Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and the countless women whose names are never said but have shared the same unfortunate fate," Irving said. "I will continue to champion those who are working to enact change for and to empower Black, Native, Indigenous, Hispanic, and women of color. I am equally committed to creating platforms like the #SAYHERNAME: Breonna Taylor special, that provides support, solutions, and sustainable impact.”