Elena Delle Donne: Reaching for the heights
WNBA superstar Elena Delle Donne’s wedded long-time girlfriend Amanda Clifton last November 3, capping a year of big changes in her life after she changed teams, from Chicago Sky to Washington Mystics.
But for this towering American female professional basketball player of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), this is what she wanted. And what Delle Donne wants, Delle Donne gets.
Elena Delle Donne’s early life
Born in Wilmington, Delaware in September 5, 1989, Delle Donne came from a tall family: her father, who was 6’6″, and her mother, who was 6’2″.
An ESPN 2016 feature on Delle Donne recounted her struggle with her height when she was growing up, like being thought of eight years old when she was actually three years old.
It came to a point that a doctor suggested giving her injections to stunt her growth, but her mother refused. By eighth grade, she was already at 6’0″
Delle Donne said her mother told her to accept her height as a gift: “She was like, “I’m telling you, one day you are going to realize how beautiful your height is.””
“She would always tell me how unique I am and say, “Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person”,” she added.
Elena Delle Donne’s career
With her height, Delle Donne was a natural to play basketball. In high school, she gave Ursuline Academy three straight Delaware State Championship titles.
Though she received a basketball scholarship from the University of Connecticut, she dropped out to stay close to her older sister, Lizzy (who suffers from cerebral palsy and autism), and went to University of Delaware instead.
After a brief stint of volleyball, she led the Delaware Blue Hens though she was stricken with Lyme disease during her sophomore year, something that would afflict her throughout her life.
With her excellent college record, Delle Donne was selected second overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky.
Though she constantly led in points in her games and was named 2013 Rookie of the Year, she was also unlucky in terms of health.
She suffered from several bouts of Lyme disease, a back injury, and a thumb injury throughout her stint with Sky.
In 2016, she went to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as part of the 2016 US team. Their team would later win the gold medal against Spain.
Elena Delle Donne’s heart
With Delle Donne’s rookie contract set to expire, Chicago Sky was willing to trade her to the Washington Mystics for Stefanie Dolson, Kahleah Copper, and the second overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft.
“I’ve had my eye, we’ve had our eye, on Elena for a long, long time,” said said Ted Leonsis, founder and chief executive of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates the Mystics.
“This is just one of those once-in-a-generation players who has this natural charisma,” Leonsis added.
Delle Donne was happy with the deal, with her family home 115 miles from the capital. She said: “The proximity to home was obviously a pull, but I wanted the basketball to be great as well.”
Then on November 3, Dell Donne tied the knot with her girlfriend of four years with a wedding in Sands Point, New York that was attended by loved ones and friends.
Describing her relationship with Clifton, she said: “It should just be the norm… I love a woman. It should just be no big deal.”