NBWA 2nd Annual Women’s Empowerment Summit Serves Star Power & Sisterhood

(CHARLOTTE) – February 22, 2019 – On Saturday, February 16th, the National Basketball Wives Association (NBWA) (www.nbwassoc.org), held its 2nd Annual “Women’s Empowerment Summit” in Charlotte, NC, during NBA All-Star Weekend. The event was hosted by Cari Champion (ESPN) and Baron Davis (Former Two-Time NBA All-Star), presented by Morgan Stanley, Business Inside the Game, and NBA Cares. The Summit benefited NBWA official partner charity March of Dimes and local Charlotte youth mentorship program Girl Talk Foundation, Inc.

The thematic for 2019 was “The Evolution of Women in Business”. Over 200 powerful women and men arrived at Foundation for the Carolinas to connect and share their life experiences as entrepreneurs, business professionals, thought leaders, and community organizers.

The day began with VIPs being greeted by NBWA President Mia Wright, along with delectable hors d’oeuvres as they arrived. Attendees networked inside of the beautiful venue, as they placed bids on silent auction items.
The illustrious two-part event began with a VIP luncheon, which honored former BET Networks Chairwoman Debra Lee, Google’s Global Head of Women & Black Community Engagement Valeisha Butterfield Jones, NBA Charlotte Hornets G-League affiliate, Greensboro Swarm Coach Chasity Melvin and NBWA Lifetime Member and Charlotte, NC native Courtney Ajinça.

2019 Women in Business Honorees (Left) Valeisha Butterfield Jones and (Right) Debra Lee, enjoy a good laugh during their fireside chat with Co-Host Baron Davis
(Left) 2019 Women in Business Honoree and NBWA Lifetime Member Courtney Ajinça (Right) NBWA President Mia Wright
2019 Women in Business Honoree Chasity Melvin (NBA G-League Greensboro Swarm Coach)

After the luncheon, an All-Star panel line-up featuring NBA Wives Ayesha Curry, CleRenda McGrady, Shannon Allen and Sandra L. Richards, published author & Morgan Stanley Head of Global Sports & Entertainment, inspired attendees with personal journeys and key insights into gaining success in their various industries as pioneers, debunking the work-life balance myth. “There is a Season for everything”, shared Life-Coach and published author CleRenda McGrady.2019 Honorees Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Debra Lee discussed their plights as women in the corporate arena and the importance of diversity and inclusion. Actresses and powerhouse brands, Gabrielle Union-Wade and La La Anthony both addressed the pros and cons of being labeled a “Basketball Wife” and the drive to establishing their own paths for success.

(Left to Right) Ayesha Curry, CleRenda McGrady, Sandra L. Richards, Shannon Allen and Baron Davis.

The finale featured a special celebrity guest segment moderated by Cari Champion, Now That’s Real Talk: A Conversation with Jada Pinkett Smith. The Actress touched on the challenges of balancing marriage, motherhood, and dealing with pain from your past that left the audience deeply impacted.

Co-Host Cari Champion and Special Guest Jada Pinkett Smith
Co-Host Cari Champion (ESPN Co-Anchor)

Produced by Charlotte, NC based Event Design Company Jarrett Affairs and Baron Davis’ BIG (Business Inside the Game), other special guests in attendance included Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk Co-Hosts, daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris. Additional notable guests included Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Gayle King, Sydel Curry and Sonya Curry, Roland Martin, former NBA player Antonio Davis, Nina Westbrook (wife of Russell Westbrook), Derek “Fonzworth Bentley” Watkins, Kelly Davis, Thomas Davis, Defending Dreams Foundation, Ashtyn Montgomery (girlfriend of Kemba Walker), Kay’la Hanson (girlfriend of Damian Lillard), Dee Dee Abdur-Rahim (Wife of NBA G-League President Shariff Abdur-Rahim), Ione Rucker Jamison and Ruby Rucker Cooper.

Girl Talk Foundation Founder Janine Davis (Charlotte’s V103 On-Air Personality) and program mentees.

As the event concluded, each attendee was provided with a special gift bag. The posh gift bags included exclusive items from premium sponsors Britto, Raycon, Sol de Janeiro, The Giving Keys, HUE For Every Man, Buttah by Dorion Renaud, Stone Castle Vineyard & Winery, Savorfull and Tieks by Gavrieli.

Visit NBWA’s YouTube Channel for an exclusive event recap

Event Photo Gallery


Mia Wright has big plans as president of the National Basketball Wives Association

‘It is hugely important for those of us that have the resources to set the example’

“Managing our husbands’ brands is one thing that binds us together.”

So said Mia Wright as she welcomed hundreds of guests to the recent National Basketball Wives Association (NBWA) Women’s Empowerment Summit.

Attendees learned about the organization’s new vision and listened to a panel moderated by CBS anchor Gayle King that included Ayesha Curry, Cookie Johnson, Jada Paul, Elaine Baylor, Tracy Mourning and Adrienne Bosh. There was even a surprise visit by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters.

From left to right: Cookie Johnson, Ayesha Curry, Gayle King, Jada Paul, Mia Wright, Elaine Baylor, Adrienne Bosh and Tracy Wilson Mourning.

“The purpose of the event is the coming out of the National Basketball Wives Association, and letting the public know and having the support of our NBA family to say, ‘Hey, we’re here, we have a mission, come join us,’ ” Wright said. “We’re not only here to break down stereotypes of women that are married to professional athletes, but we’re also here to show the importance of mentorship.”

Established in 1993, the organization was initially known as Women of the NBA, which later was changed to Behind the Bench, The National Basketball Wives Association. The nonprofit’s members include wives, significant others and life partners of current and retired players representing the American Basketball Association (ABA), the NBA, the NBA G League (minor league) and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Now the NBWA is entering the next stage of its evolution.

“I saw, along with my executive board members, that there was this need to regroup and to build the new entity that would be well representative of these women,” said Wright, who is the wife of NBA veteran Dorell Wright.

The current executive officers include Wright, vice president Tomi Rose Strickland (wife of Mark Strickland), secretary Renee Taplin-Jones (wife of Major Jones) and treasurer Donna M. Harris-Lewis (widow of Reggie Lewis).

“I found an opportunity to step into a leadership role with this organization and lead the charge on our membership and galvanizing women of influence to come together for our charitable mission,” Wright said. “I chose to take the position because I know that, being associated with professional athletes, there is a stage and this platform that comes along with that. And now more than ever in this era of social media, there’s millions of young girls that are looking up to us whether we like it or not. So … bringing women together for a charitable mission to raise awareness for underserved families and children, that’s really what it’s about.”

A Los Angeles native, Wright considers herself a “showbiz kid.” She appeared in her first commercial at 2 years old. She later became a member of the girl trio Before Dark, a rhythm and blues group signed to RCA Records.

Wright and her husband had a son, Devin, in 2008. Two years later, she became executive director of the couple’s first nonprofit organization, the D Wright Way Foundation, now known as the Wright Legacy Foundation (which includes Dorell Wright’s brother, Toronto Raptors guard Delon Wright). The organization helped inner-city communities in Miami; Oakland, California; Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; and their hometown of Los Angeles. The two held events such as the Thanksgiving Festival, Adopt-A-Family at Christmas and KB3 Memorial Scholarship Fund. They also launched menswear line Scrapes & Gravel in February 2014, where she is CEO.

The Wrights welcomed their second son, Dash, in 2015, and Mia still finds herself balancing family, philanthropy and the many positions she holds.

“It is difficult because I think from the outside looking in, it looks like, ‘Oh, this is a fabulous life, you guys get to do this and that and fly here and there.’ But when you take on that spirit of entrepreneurship … it comes with a lot of responsibility,” Wright said.

“Being able to set the tone for future generations is critically important, especially now,” she added. “I think that it is hugely important for those of us that have the resources to set the example, and so that is what my balance comes from. It comes from purpose in knowing that the work that I’m doing is so much bigger than me, it’s bigger than my kids, it’s bigger than my husband. It’s literally we’re setting the tone for future generations and communities to survive and thrive.”

Wright says it’s important to have an identity as more than a basketball wife. She recalls being new to Miami at age 22 and meeting Tracy Wilson Mourning, wife of Alonzo Mourning.

“I remembered just seeing her and knowing that she had her own identity and all that she did in the community, and I said to myself, ‘I want to be like her. This is who I want to pattern my new life after.’ And it sounds a little crazy, but I think that is where the importance of mentorship comes in, because she embraced me. We were never super close, but we’ve maintained a relationship throughout the years, and her example from afar is one of the main inspirations that I had to use my husband’s platform, to create our foundations and to ensure that even though he wasn’t the franchise player, we had our footprints in those communities that he played in.”

Wright said the hardest part of her journey has been to remove fear from her spirit.

“When I say fear, that’s fear of judgment, that’s fear of failure, that’s fear in totality. Especially being in the public eye, being susceptible to the millions of opinions that you didn’t ask for, that can be quite difficult. So, yeah, that would be the most difficult thing. Kicking fear in the butt and getting it out of here.”



The National Basketball Wives Association (NBWA) held a vibrant launch event, “A New Vision Masquerade Luncheon” during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana. The event was held at the historical Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter, America’s longest family owned and operated restaurant sustaining a 176 year legacy.

NBWA’s Executive and Professional Advisory Board members welcomed a full house including NBWA supporters, potential members and corporate and community partners. NBWA’s President, Mia Wright, delivered an inspiring speech highlighting NBWA’s immediate goals, including building the organization’s membership, with a strong message of inclusiveness and unity amongst members. “Far too often, invisible lines and barriers are erected, separating us, classifying us and indirectly pitting one woman against another. Now more than ever, we need to unite and uplift one another. ” said Wright.

The event was hosted by local New Orleans WWL-TV’s Eyewitness Morning News Co-Anchor Sally-Ann Roberts, and included a surprise 2017 NBWA Women Empowerment award presented to Sally-Ann Roberts, as well as to honorees Dee Brown and Dr. Susan Fielkow. NBWA donated event proceeds to local charity Each One Save One, a non-profit mentorship program in New Orleans dedicated to empowering at-risk children by providing an army of volunteer mentors throughout the metropolitan area. A charitable donation was also pledged to Eden House, a New Orleans non-profit organizaiton with a mission to end human and sex trafficking one woman at a time. Both organizations exemplify NBWA’s mission to facilitate positive results, especially for women and children, in three core areas: Education, Health & Wellness and Women Empowerment.

Event sposnors included NBA Cares, NBPA (National Basketball Players Association), NBRPA (National Basketball Retired Players Association), and Greenberg Traurig LLP.



With the recent social media firestorm bringing heightened attention to missing young teens and women in the Washington DC area, the Executive Board members of NBWA decided to have its hand in raising awareness on Human Trafficking. Many Americans believe Human Trafficking to be a third-world issue and define its place here in the US as prostitution, an illegal and consented act. In fact, there are many forms of human trafficking, otherwise known as modern day slavery. Many young men, women and children are brought to American suburbs as a domestic worker, under the pretense they will be paid handsomely and given the ability to provide for their families back home. In most cases, this turns out to be a fairytale turned nightmare. Many are forced to work long days and nights, with meager accommodations, no access to a phone or computer for communication back home, and never see a dime of the fortune promised. In it’s most horrific form, sex trafficking, unthinkable acts are committed against young men, women and children, unnoticed in a dark perverse world that has gone eerily overlooked in America for far too long.

The rise of independent news stories has shed a small spotlight on a growing epidemic, though there are many national organizations that have long committed themselves to creating awareness, fighting for legislation, and putting an end to Human Trafficking. NBWA recently helped to sponsor one of the most dynamic organizations in the fight, CAST (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking) and their 19th Annual From Slavery to Freedom Gala. The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) is a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization that is working to put an end to modern slavery and human trafficking through comprehensive, lifesaving services to survivors and a platform to advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation. Over the past two decades, CAST has supported thousands of survivors through every phase of their journey to freedom from counseling, to legal resources, to housing, educational and leadership training and mentorship. Through these programs, CAST has helped empower survivors to overcome their traumatic pasts and become leading voices in shaping policy and public awareness to ultimately put an end to the fastest growing criminal enterprise of the 21st century. The Gala was supported and attended by celebrities Russell Simmons and Kate Bosworth, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. NBWA’s Executive Board, Members and guests shared in a moving evening that left each person eager to learn more about what can be done to eradicate Human Trafficking and Slavery for good. For more information about CAST and their incredible work, and how you can help, please visit their website www.castla.org.

NBWA Executive Board, Members and Guests (L-R) Renee McDonald, Cheryl Washington Esq., Renee Taplin-Jones, Donna Harris-Lewis, Mia Wright, Michelle Harrington, Jada Paul, Reggiena Lewis and Keana Essex.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, CAST CEO Kay Buck, CAST Survivor & Advocate Tzighe Mesfun (2017 Courage Award Recipient), and Butch Schuman (2017 Founder Award Recipient).

Russell Simmons

Actress Kate Bosworth and 2017 Courage Award recipient Tzighe Mesfun



The National Basketball Wives Association Inc., in partnership with Morgan Stanley and Kaiser Permanente, presented a hugely successful 2017 NBWA “Building a Living Legacy” Conference this past September 29-October 1, at the vibrant Omni Hotel at California Plaza, in Downtown Los Angeles, California. The Conference events were attended by over seventy guests, including NBWA Members, supporters and community partners.

The Conference began with a NBWA Members volunteer effort and visit to the CAST Los Angeles Regional Taskforce on Human Trafficking Facility, donating Emergency Response backpack items for victims of Sex & Labor Trafficking. With over one hundred partners, it is the largest co-located human trafficking task force in the country created by CAST and the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Office to bring together unlikely partners such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Labor to work together and combat human trafficking. NBWA Members toured the facility and were given the opportunity to meet with CAST members of the Survivor Advisory Caucas and National Survivor Network, leadership programs headed by Human Trafficking survivors. The members shared their heartwrenching stories of trafficking, stirring great emotion amongst all, and most importantly shared their moments of unmatched strength and courage that ultimately led to their freedom, taking back their power on the journey to rebuilding their lives.

2017 NBWA Conference events continued with a Welcome Reception Friday evening at the Omni Hotel, followed by the Conference’s member meetings and corporate presentations Saturday morning. NBWA Members participated in empowering workshops including, “Developing Your Personal Brand” by global biotech leader and author Mary Stutts, MHA and “Protecting Your Family and Business” by sports and entertainment attorney Cheryl R. Washington, Esq.

Corporate presentations included “Vision Board Workshop” by Sarah Centrella, “Invest in Your Health” by Kaiser Permanente physician Dr. Juanita Watts and “Human Trafficking Awareness” by CAST CEO Kay Buck. Various private social events were enjoyed by all. The weekend closed with a Health & Wellness day, including a workout with local fitness team Kinetic Studio and pampering by mobile celebrity spa service Manly Handz. All 2017 NBWA Conference proceeds benefit the NBWA Cares Community Grant Fund.

For additional 2017 NBWA “Building a Living Legacy” Conference photos and up to date NBWA news, please visit (and like) our Facebook page.

NBWA Executive Board (L-R) Renee Taplin-Jones (Secretary), Donna Harris-Lewis (Treasurer), Mia Wright (President), Tomi Rose Strickland (Vice-President).