LGBT History Month 2022 October 5: Sue Bird, WNBA Superstar


born. October 16, 1980

“Every great team has had to fail at some point in order to be successful.”

Sue Bird is a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star and a five-time Olympic gold medalist. Her league records include all-time leader in assists and 12-time WNBA All-Star. Considered one of the greatest female players of all time, she has spent her career with the Seattle Storm.

Bird was born to an Israeli-American family in Syosset, New York. Influenced by an athletic older sister, Bird developed an early aptitude for a variety of sports and started playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball in sixth grade.

Bird attended Syosset High School, where she played basketball for her first two years. She then transferred to Christ the King Regional High School in Queens for a chance to play with a more competitive team.

In her first year at Christ the King, the team went undefeated, winning the New York State Championship and the national title. Bird was named New York State Player of the Year and earned the same title from the New York Daily News. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) named her an All-Amercian.

Prestigious college teams fought to recruit Bird. She chose the University of Connecticut, but tore her ACL in her freshman year. She played the following season, helping the Huskies win the 2000 NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament. When she graduated from UConn in 2002, Bird took with her the Wade Trophy, the Honda Sports Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award.

In the 2002 WNBA draft, Bird was the Seattle Storm’s first pick. In 2004 the Storm won the WNBA Championship. She has helped lead the team to four championship victories. In 2011 she was named one of the top 15 WNBA players of all time.

In 2013 Bird underwent knee surgery that sidelined her for the season. She returned to the game in 2014 and was named the WNBA All-Star of the Year. She re-signed with Seattle in 2016 and was named one of the WNBA’s 20 best players in its 20-year history.

Bird had two more knee surgeries that briefly took her off the court. She played her 19th and final season with the Storm in 2022 — the most ever in the WNBA — before announcing her retirement.

Bird played on the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team five times, winning five golds, most recently in 2021. At the 2016 games, she met Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. professional soccer player, and the two began dating. Bird came out as lesbian in 2017, when she made their relationship public. The couple announced their engagement in October 2020.

In 1994, Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high school teacher, believed a month should be dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay and lesbian history, and gathered other teachers and community leaders. They selected October because public schools are in session and existing traditions, such as Coming Out Day (October 11), occur that month.

Gay and Lesbian History Month was endorsed by GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Education Association and other national organizations. In 2006 Equality Forum assumed responsibility for providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month.