Elena Delle Donne: Deep-dish and doggies
Birthplace: Wilmington, Del.
Siblings: Older brother, Gene, and older sister, Lizzie
Twitter handle: @De11eDonne
Twitter followers: 54,721 (and counting)
15 things you don't know about Elena Delle Donne:
1. Her 24th birthday was Sept. 5. After morning practice, her teammates feted her with sweet treats. Then the Birthday Girl hit the mall with her mom, who flew to Chicago for the day, followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant.
2. Rolling in the deep-dish? Since moving to Chicago to play for the Sky, she has cultivated a taste for deep-dish pie -- specifically, pepperoni-stuffed 'za from Giordano's. But when she's home, near Philly? Cheesesteaks all the way.
3. Playing with the Big Dog! Delle Donne recently adopted a Blue Great Dane puppy, which she named Wrigley. The moniker came to her after she threw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs games on one of her first nights living in Chi-Town. Wrigley rocks a Cubs collar and matching leash.
4. Delle Done majored in special education at the University of Delaware, motivated by her older sister, Lizzie, who is blind and deaf and lives with cerebral palsy. "Lizzie has been the inspiration in my whole life," Delle Donne says. "Just for her to go through every day, getting out of bed, eating breakfast, going to her school for the day, it is incredible she can do that. She is always putting life into perspective for me." A tattoo of Lizzie's name nestled in angel wings constantly reminds Delle Donne to keep making strides.
5. The Special Olympics has a special place in Delle Donne's heart. "I love interacting with the athletes. It's really fun to see them achieve their goals, and their excitement is awesome," says the longtime volunteer. "Whether they come in first or they come in last, they love competing. It's a breath of fresh air to be around people like that."
6. Auntie Elena! Baby Giana was born Sept. 16 to her brother, Gene, and his wife. The proud aunt already has some gear picked out for her niece: a Nike onesie, socks and sneakers.
7. Against all odds, she tracked down a Gumby costume long enough to accommodate her 6-foot-5 frame for Halloween 2012. This year, she's plotting a costume that will incorporate Wrigley. A few suggestions: Dorothy and Toto; Elle Woods and Bruiser Woods; Velma and Scrappy Doo.
8. #tbt! Delle Donne loves Throwback Thursdays. Check out this snap of her as a baby on the beach.
9. Intense fatigue, migraine-level headaches and crippling muscle and joint pain continue to intermittently plague Delle Donne, who contracted Lyme disease in 2008. In 2010, the pain was so intense that she sometimes couldn't get out of bed. Before a diagnosis was made, one physician told Delle Donne's father that he suspected a brain tumor or Lou Gehrig's disease. "I was scared, really scared," she has said. "My family, obviously it was great being with my family at that point in time because they were taking care of me the best they could, but they were also there for me mentally, where I was like, 'I could be dying.' That's what I felt like; I felt like I was dying. No doctors knew what it was."
10. Delle Donne blogs about her life on and off the court for the WNBA.
11. Gene is also her agent. "Working together is amazing," she says of her 6-7 brother, who played tight end for Middle Tennessee State. "There's such open communication, so I can be really honest. He knows me so well and is into building my brand the right way, finding deals that align with who I am. We make a great pair." Little sis even granted him a few days of paternity leave when Giana arrived.
12. Her name is pronounced "Della Don," and it means "Of the women" in Italian. When asked if she was raised in a feminist household: "Absolutely. I could do whatever I wanted as a girl, whatever my brother did. I could play against the boys and achieve whatever they did."
13. She's got moves like Jagger: Maroon 5 was the last great concert she saw.
14. Delle Donne is a cartoon fanatic. "Hey Arnold!" "Rocket Power" and "Arthur" are her faves.
15. Calgon, take her away: Della Donne still loves to take baths, even though she doesn't necessarily fit so well into them. A couple of nights a week, she'll fold herself into the tub, sometimes with Epsom salts if she's feeling sore, and just chill out.