Etan Thomas

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2021  –  Global

Etan Thomas has been the personification of “The Activist Athlete.” his entire 11 NBA career. Thomas defies the stereotype of the apolitical athlete, planting his roots in his formidable literary career, passion for mentoring and civic engagement.

Born in Harlem, New York and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thomas’ childhood was surrounded by books on the civil rights movement, politics and the 1960′s. He was greatly influenced by his mother, Deborah Thomas, a schoolteacher, who instilled in her two sons to think critically and use their platform to make a difference. Etan Thomas has made his mark far beyond the boundaries of his 11 years in the NBA.

His latest work, We Matter “Athletes And Activism” was released March 6th 2018, Thomas has amassed an amazing collection of interviews intertwined with the heartfelt commentary of his own to create a masterpiece. You’ll read the voices of athletes, activists, media personalities, scholars, and the family of victims of police brutality. We Matter was listed as one of the top ten best activism books of all time by Book Authority. And tied for best non-fiction for 2018 by the African-American Literary Awards (AALAS)

In 2005, Thomas released his first book, a collection of poems called More Than An Athlete (Haymarket Books) that set Thomas apart as “this generation’s athlete with a moral conscious and a voice.” In 2012, Thomas released his 2nd book, Fatherhood: Rising To The Ultimate Challenge (Penguin), as a national conversation about fatherhood ensued and The Fatherhood Movement was borne. Thomas continues this conversation holding Town Hall panels through-out the country at prisons, churches, Universities, schools, and various conventions where he continues to inspire, motivate and support generations. In January 2013, he released Voices Of The Future (Penguin), a collection of poems and essays from young writers from around the country on topics such as Racism, Trayvon Martin, President Obama, Gun Violence, and Aids. Thomas utilizes poetry as an expressive form and encourages young people to read, write and develop the skills to express themselves.

Etan Thomas approaches his work fearlessly. Never afraid to voice his opinions, Etan was honored for social justice advocacy as the recipient of the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award, as well as the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation, Inc. Legacy Award. Etan jumps at the opportunity to support civic engagement especially for under- resourced populations.

He is a senior writer for basketballnews.com and is the host of The Rematch. He writes for The Guardian and has previously written for The Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, ESPN, Hoopshype.com and slamonline. He frequently can be seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent for “hot topics.” He continues to be invited on syndicated radio and co-hosts a weekly local radio show on WPFW 89.3FM, The Collision, where sports and politics collide.

Ibtihaj Muhammad

Fencing

Served as envoy

  • 2013  –  United Kingdom
  • 2013  –  Russia
  • 2021  –  Global

Ibtihaj Muhammad is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker and Olympic medalist in fencing. A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 5-time Senior World medalist and World Champion, in 2016, Ibtihaj became the first American woman to compete in the Olympics in hijab. Ibtihaj was a 3-time All American at Duke University where she graduated with a dual major in International Relations and African Studies. In 2014, Ibtihaj launched her own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring modest, fashionable and affordable clothing to the United States market. In 2017, Mattel announced their first hijabi Barbie, modeled in Ibtihaj’s likeness, as part of Barbie’s “Shero” line of dolls. The Barbie became available for purchase in July 2018. Ibtihaj released her debut memoir in July 2018, PROUD: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream. Ibtihaj released her third book, children’s picture book, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab & Family, that became a New York Times’ Best-Seller.

Ibtihaj is a sports ambassador with the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sport Initiative, and works closely with organizations like Athletes for Impact and the Special Olympics. Named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential list, Ibtihaj is an important figure in a larger global discussion on equality and the importance of sport. Her voice continues to unite both the sports and non-sports world.

John Register

Track & Field Paralympics

Served as envoy

  • 2016  –  Uzbekistan
  • 2018  –  Japan
  • 2021  –  Global

Since childhood, sports have been John Register’s passion. A born athlete, he began swimming competitively at a young age, and soon added baseball, football and eventually track and field to his repertoire.

After high school, Register earned a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, where he became a four-time All-American — once in the NCAA long jump, once in the 55m high hurdles and twice on the 4x400m relay teams. Upon earning his BA in Communications in 1988, John enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he proudly served for six years. A Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran, he continued to pursue athletic excellence while on active duty, participating in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and winning nine gold medals in the Armed Services Competition, as well as two World Military Championships.

In 1988, John qualified for the Olympic trials in the 110m hurdles, and again in 1992 for the 400m hurdles. With these accomplishments, he seemed destined to compete as a member of the 1996 Olympic Team. On May 17, 1994, however, his life would be forever altered with one misstep over the hurdle.

A faulty landing hyper-extended John’s left knee, resulting in a severed popiliteal artery. An attempt to reconstruct the artery using a vein from his right leg failed; within days, gangrene turned the muscle black, and amputation was suggested. The alternative was a useless left knee and ankle, which would restrict his movements to a wheelchair for mobility.

Though the experience was devastating, John refused to be stopped by the injury. With a strong faith in Christ and the support of his wonderfully supportive wife Alice, he chose amputation, and through the use of a prosthetic leg, he walked again – and eventually ran.

During his long journey to recovery, John began using sports as a conduit to rehabilitation. At the Brooke Army Medical Center, he began swimming for cardiovascular fitness. It was during the first few swim sessions with his personal coach that an inspiration to compete again was born. After only 18 months of rehabilitation and training, John qualified for – and made – the 1996 Paralympic Team, competing in Atlanta, Ga. in the 50m freestyle. He also competed in the finals of the 4x400m-medley relay, swimming the anchor.

While watching closed-circuit television in Athlete Village during his first Paralympics, John observed athletes with one leg running and jumping on the track. Excited by what he saw, an idea was birthed, and after being fitted with a running prosthesis, he set a goal of competing in track and field at the 2000 Paralympic Games, in Sydney, Australia.

Not only did John begin to run, he began to make history! Two years after his first run with an artificial leg, he earned the Silver medal in the long jump at the 2000 Paralympic Games and set the American long jump record in the process with a distance of 5.41 meters (17.8feet). He also sprinted to 5th place in both the 100 and 200m dashes.

John’s life has truly come full circle in his transformation from All-American long jumper to Paralympic Silver medalist. His exceptional story of courage and inspiration led him to found Inspired Communications, where he serves as inspirational speaker, helping his audiences apply life lessons learned through times of testing to focus on what is possible.

“I did not overcome the loss of my limb. To overcome the loss would mean I’d have to grow it back. What I overcame were the limits I placed on myself and that others placed on me. This is what is universal for all of us to overcome.” John Register

His powerful keynote, “Hurdling Adversity”, challenges audiences both young and old to unleash the inspiration in them. John has been a spokesperson for Hartford Insurance Company, the American Plastics Council, the Ohio Willow Wood Company, and Disabled Sports USA. He has been a solutions engine for more than 50 companies, and featured on numerous national television programs, to include: PAX TV’s “It’s A Miracle” with Richard Thomas, FOX’s “The Edge” with Paula Zahn, NBC’s “Weekend Today Show” with Sara James, and MSNBC’s “Morning Blend” with Solidad O’Brian. He has also been profiled several times in The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN Magazine and the Washington Kid’s Post.

Subsequent to his 1994 amputation, John remained active with the military- first as a civilian employee of the Army working as a sports specialist with the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, then as a program specialist with the U.S. Army B.O.S.S. (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) Program at the Community and Family Support Center (CFSC) Headquarters in Alexandria, VA.

In 2003, he accepted a position with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), and birthed the USOC Paralympic Military Program, which uses sports to assist in the recovery of wounded, ill or injured service members. The program which serves both active duty and retired military personnel has impacted thousands in creating their new normal.

Register is both volunteer and civic-minded, and frequently engages in peer mentor visits at military and veteran hospitals, serves on numerous boards, and was one of 35 co-chairs who acted as a surrogate for President Obama’s 2012 re-election.

John is married to the former Alice Johnson. The couple has two children (John Jr. , 29, and Ashley, 21). John also is the father of Ron Register, 30. Alice and John reside in Colorado Springs, Colorado.