Rebekkah Brunson, Sacramento Monarchs
As fierce and aggressive as she is on the court, Monarchs forward Rebekkah Brunson is even more aggressive off the court. Aggressive enough, in fact, that the Maryland native has invested her time, her passion and her money in a cause that is very important to her and started her own foundation set to launch this season.
Now in her third season with the Monarchs, Brunson has not forgotten her roots in the Washington D.C. area. Her 32 Foundation, named aptly enough because she wears the number 32, will be aimed at helping at-risk teens in the area stay out of trouble and overcome the obstacles in place that could limit their growth or achievement.
Brunson's foundation launches this summer.
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"Much of what we will do will start with mentorship and tutorial programs," Brunson said. "Just a lot of things to get the inner city kids out of the city. People get trapped and all they see is their little community. As a result, a lot of athletes can't make it outside their community. We see a lot of athletes in college who don't make it: either they can't make the grades, they don't focus or they just don't want to be away from home. In order for you to do anything, the first step is getting away from your block."
This is an effort that Brunson has been working on for some time now, the obvious challenge being that she plays basketball outside of her hometown all year round. That said, she expects it to launch very soon.
"It's so hard and I feel bad because I'm not around as much as I'd like to be and I can't be there, hands-on and I want to do my part there, but right now, it's not really possible."
She has a friend, Curtis Cunningham, who has been doing most of the organizational work. He works on the summer leagues that Brunson has held for the past few summers."
very helpful and he puts a lot of things together for me."
Of course, growing up in that environment that she did, Brunson was lucky. She found basketball and, in turn, positive and motivational influences in her life.
"When I was younger, my mom couldn't pay for me to play, so there was always a coach to come in a pay for me to play A.A.U., or pay for me to go somewhere with some team, and that helped me out a lot. If I didn't have those coaches, I would probably be at home, doing the same things I was doing ten years ago."
Her goal is to enable people who are in similar situations that she was in to lead positive lives.
"I know that if I didn't have people helping me, then I would probably be standing outside on the street doing what most of my friends are doing now, which is nothing," she said. "I mean, you go back and see your community and it's the same people doing the same things, and I had a lot of help. I just want to offer that help to other people.
Of course, Brunson has been very active with the Monarchs team events, but wanted to go above and beyond the typical call of duty.
"We do Read to Achieve and the Fitness clinics, which are very important and make a great impact, but I think the things we do with the Monarchs are geared towards very young kids," Brunson said. "I wanted to work with teenagers who are in middle school, high school or even trying to transition to high school to college."