WNBA Heroes in the Community
Nakia Sanford, Washington Mystics

Washington Mystics forward-center Nakia Sanford is not only a great contributor to the city of Washington on the basketball court, averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds per game for the Mystics this season, but she is also a great contributor to the community of Washington D.C. and her native Georgia as well.

Sanford grew up in Georgia and played her college basketball at the University of Kansas. After signing with Washington in 2003, Nakia has averaged of 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds throughout her career. Nakia owes her success to the support of her family and believes that "if you know better, then you'll be able to do better.

All business on the court, Sanford's good deeds off the court are not going unnoticed
Mitchell Layton /NBAE/Getty Images
"I was lucky that I had a family around me and had a lot of support," Sanford said. "I had two grandmothers, two grandfathers, two fathers, two mothers, and a lot of family support. There was always someone there, someone to care about me. I watched my mother struggle and she told me to always do better than she did."

Because Nakia believes "a lot of times, we don't have much guidance for our youth," she started a mentoring program called the Betty Anne Robertson Foundation in June of 2005. Named after her late grandmother, the Foundation focuses on the "ninth grade growth point into high schoolers, and is mainly a mentorship program right now."

The Betty Anne Robertson Foundation kicked off their first program last summer with a big sister mentoring program in August. Because of people's busy schedules, including Nakia's during the WNBA season, the program allows the young adults to email their mentor and also go out to dinner with their mentor.

Helping the community is Nakia's passion and she plans to continue to run the Foundation after she retires.

"I started my foundation so this will be able to be my job when I finish playing basketball because I want to stay involved in the community and stay involved with children," Nakia said. "that's what my passion is, so that's what I'll be doing."

Along with Nakia, you can help. There is a web site called thebarfoundation.org that she encourages fans to go check out if they would like to become a mentor in the D.C. or Georgia areas. There are applications available for download. Fans may also make a donation as the group is growing and continues to look for mentors. Sanford hopes to find additional volunteers and supporters to help get the message out there, especially to underprivileged youth, that there are people out there who care and want to do something for the children in the community.