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NBA Wives Host Events Empowering Women During All-Star Weekend

NBA All-Star
Sarafina Wright
The National Basketball Wives Association and the March of Dimes host a baby shower for low-income mothers during All-Star weekend in Charlotte.

This All-Star weekend, the NBA takes center stage. But around Charlotte, the mothers, wives and partners of your favorite players held events to empower women.

There was the Women's Empowerment Summit Saturday with actress Gabrielle Union, wife of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.  She said it's important to show what real empowerment looks like. 

"Half the battle is just showing up. I’m trying to show up, show out and shine a light on these women doing amazing things,” Union said. 

One of those women the event recognized was North Carolina native Valeisha Butterfield-Jones. She’s the global head of women and black engagement at Google. She’s also the wife of NBA Champion Dahntay Jones.

“Its been twenty years now since I’ve started fighting for equity for women and I think now - because of the consistency, because of the impact, because of the diligence - I believe that's why I was selected," said Butterfield-Jones.

Credit Sarafina Wright
Valeisha Butterfield - Jones, global head of women and black engagement at Google.

The National Basketball Wives Association, which includes the wives of former and current players, kicked off the weekend Friday with a baby shower for low-income mothers at Greater Mount Sinai Baptist Church on Charlotte’s west side.

They partnered with March of Dimes, a nonprofit that works to improve the health of mothers and babies.

March of Dimes President and CEO Stacey Stewart says it’s critical to reach mothers who are more likely to die as a result of pregnancy complications.

“We are living in a country that is producing some of the worst outcomes for moms and babies, especially for women of color and African-American moms and babies," Stewart said. "Whether it's around premature birth or infant mortality, or even maternal mortality and morbidity, women are dying as a result of childbirth. We have a lot of work to do."

Cookie Johnson, NBWA vice president and wife of NBA legend Magic Johnson, said she hopes the baby shower gives the mothers a good start.

“This is life. We want to be able to help moms be healthy while they’re pregnant and have healthy babies," Johnson said. "It’s like starting a baby off right. If you give them a good start and a good foundation, then they have a better chance in life.”

Several dozen mothers received strollers, car seats, clothes, gift bags and more. There was even a raffle giveaway. Anita Boswell, a 24 year-old expecting mother, held her gifts close. She called them a blessing. 

Credit Sarafina Wright
Anita Boswell

“That’s always a good help for a low-income family," Boswell said. "I’m a single mom of three, well, about to be three. So this was really a help."

She says the event made her feel welcomed and not judged, a reality she says she faces seeing doctors with Medicaid.

“I would say with the system, is they think just because you're black, automatically you're doing some type of drugs or something like that," Boswell said. "That’s my biggest concern. That’s kind of disappointing.”

For Boswell, baby gifts and hugs from basketball wives was an All-Star party she wasn’t expecting.  

Sarafina Wright is the "All Things Considered" producer for WFAE 90.7 Charlotte’s NPR Source. Before coming to WFAE, she worked as a political correspondent for EBONY.com, staff writer at the Washington Informer and editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge in Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Howard University. When she's not writing professionally, Sarafina can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com or hanging out with her book club, Charlotte West.