Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Ileana Rodriguez

Swimming (para)

Served as envoy

  • 2023  –  Virtual

Ileana Rodriguez is a Paralympic swimmer and former member of the USA Team for the London 2012 Games.

Ileana Rodriguez is the Principal at I Design Access, LLC, and an international architectural design consultant for major infrastructure projects focusing on inclusive design. Ileana’s experience comes from working for clients such as the International Paralympic Committee, national sports organizations, and various architecture firms. Ileana has been involved as a consultant to oversee different sizes of projects from Olympic/Paralympic Stadiums and airports to smaller sports facilities, hotels, and temporary infrastructure. The projects have taken place in Europe, Asia, and The Americas.

The work Ileana does in the field of accessibility has greatly helped to create a more inclusive built environment in the world of major sporting events. The ENR Magazine recognized Ileana as one of the top 25 Newsmakers in the industry due to her contributions to the field.
Ileana has served as the Americas Paralympic Committee Athlete Representative for the past two terms since 2015. Ileana’s commitment and belief in the importance that sport plays in communities has led her to be one of the 18th members of the LA28 Athlete Commission. Ileana has a special interest in serving in her community and the importance of accessibility and architecture as she served as a Commissioner for the Houston Planning and Houston Airport Commissions.

Willie Banks

Track & Field

Served as envoy

  • 2023  –  Virtual

Willie Banks is President of HSJ, Incorporated, a sports management and consulting firm that specializes in marketing and networking between the US and Japan. HSJ, Inc. provides its clients with value-added skills and experience for events and sports organizations. With vast, sports experience, industry knowledge and operational skills for sports businesses, HSJ, Inc. and its network help businesses and individuals implement new programs, develop strategic planning, and create fresh marketing tools.

For many years Willie has assisted cities bidding for international events like the Olympic Games. He has served as the Deputy Executive Director for the 1994 World Cup of soccer and the Director of Athlete Services for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Village. He is famous throughout the world and has represented his country in many ways. Taking note of Willie’s international popularity and outstanding personal character and leadership qualities, Time Magazine once dubbed him “The United States’ ambassador of track and field”.

Though Willie is a former world record holder and Olympian, much of his fame comes from his innovative approach to sports. Willie entertained the crowd and in response the spectators rhythmically clapped while he ran down the runway for his jump. It became so popular that it set a tradition that is mimicked throughout the world to this day. In fact, in Finland they call it “the Banks”!

Willie continues to participate in athletics and has set several age group world and national records in the triple jump and the high jump. He is an avid Zumba dance fitness enthusiast and loves to work with kids through his World Record Camps program.

Willie is a leader. He currently sits on the World Athletics Council, the international federation for Athletics (Track and Field). He is a past President of the US Olympians. He sits on the Board of Director of the USATF, and the USATF Foundation. He is the former Vice President of The Athletics Congress (TAC) 1986-89, 1988 Olympic Team Captain, former USATF Alumni President and past chairman of the Athletes Advisory Committee. While working on the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games the Martin Luther King, Jr. Women’s Association awarded Willie with their “Drum Major for Justice” award given to that individual who exemplifies a positive leadership image.

Kei Kamara

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2021  –  Sierra Leone
  • 2021  –  Virtual

To Kei Kamara, his home country of Sierra Leone means everything to him. Born in Kenema on Sept 1, 1984, he spent his childhood days like most African youngsters – playing soccer/football. By 1990, his mother left for the US and the country was in the middle of a bloody civil war that lasted 12 years. Fearing for their lives, Kamara and his family fled their home, eventually seeking refuge with his mom in 2000 in Los Angeles, California.

As a 16-year-old refugee Kamara, quickly found the structure and support he needed to graduate high school, and soon developed into a top goal scorer at nearby California State University Dominguez Hills. By 2006, he garnered attention from Major League Soccer and was drafted 9th overall by the Columbus Crew.

Over the past 15 years Kei has had an illustrious professional career that has included stints in the English Premier & Championship Leagues, and Veikkausliiga, the top division in Finland. He currently ranks 5th on the all-time MLS goal scorers list and is one of only 10 players to score over 100 goals. Kei has also represented Sierra Leone (Leone Stars) on the national stage for 12 years and helped lead the team to the 2021 African Cup of Nations Tournament for the first time since 1996.

While he’s enjoyed success on the field, Kei holds Community works close to his heart. In 2012, The Kei Kamara HEARTSHAPEDHANDS Foundation was founded with the sole purpose of providing scholarships to schools and students in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The foundation, named after his signature goal celebration, has allowed Kamara to follow his heart and use his hands to give back to the place he loves.

When the Sierra Leone government recently created free education for all, Kamara shifted the focus of his Foundation to help students earn an education through sports to study abroad. In the Fall of 2021, HSH helped its first-ever student athlete secure a scholarship to a prestigious Waldorf boarding school in New England and is currently working with other students for the same potential opportunities.

In addition, Kei has also been an active board member of the Black Players for Change (BPC) organization “committed to tackling racial injustices that have limited Black people from an equitable stake in the game of soccer and society.”

When he’s not playing soccer, Kei likes to spend time with his wife Kristin and three children – Kierin, Kendrick, Kaelan, and dog Chelsea (affectionately named after his favorite soccer team). If you know him you will know that family is his number one priority whether in Sierra Leone or in America

Willie O’Ree

Ice Hockey

Served as envoy

  • 2021  –  Virtual
  • 2021  –  China
  • 2021  –  Russia

Willie O’Ree is a  Canadian  former professional ice hockey player, best known for being the first black player in the National Hockey League. O’Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. O’Ree is referred to as the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey” for breaking the black color barrier in the sport. O’Ree played much of his professional career in the United States and settled in San Diego following his retirement.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2018. Since 1997, O’Ree has been the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, traveling across North America to schools and hockey programs to promote messages of inclusion, dedication, and confidence.

Blake Bolden

Ice Hockey

Served as envoy

  • 2021  –  Russia
  • 2021  –  China
  • 2021  –  Global

Blake Bolden has broken many barriers in achieving many firsts in the sport of women’s ice hockey. After graduating from Boston College, she joined the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, winning the Clarkson cup in 2015. In 2016, she played for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League winning the inaugural Isobel Cup. Dawned the Jackie Robinson of women’s hockey, she is the first black player drafted in the first round of the CWHL and the first ever to compete in the NWHL. Blake currently resides in San Diego, California during the off-season, working with girls all over the country specializing in mental skills, goal setting, and nutrition, using her Blake Bolden Athletics platform. She has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as their newest pro scout.

Anson Carter

Ice Hockey

Served as envoy

  • 2021  –  Russia
  • 2021  –  China
  • 2021  –  Global

Anson Carter is a former professional hockey player, playing for eight different NHL teams over the course of his career. Since joining NBCSN in 2013, Carter has worked on NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the NHL regular season, Stanley Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Final. In 2005, Carter founded Big Up Entertainment, a record label specializing in hip hop music. Carter is also a co-founder of the clothing line SOMB (Shirt Off My Back). Proceeds from sales go towards providing uniforms for underprivileged youth in Africa.

Tracy Evans

Alpine Skiing

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Virtual

Tracy Evans has distinguished herself through a lifetime of achievement, both on and off the field of play. A three-time Olympian (1994, 1998, 2002) and national champion in freestyle skiing, she became one of the first aerial skiers to perform both a double-twisting triple somersault and triple-twisting double somersault in competition. Equally impressive to her revolutionary performance on the snow are her trailblazing efforts to ensure sport delivers on the promise of its power, globally.Following a volunteer trip, prompted by her mother toRwanda, Africa in 2008, Evans founded Kids Play International, a nonprofit organization which aims to promote gender equity and the Olympic values by introducing less familiar sports to children in post-genocide affected countries. Grounded in the Olympicvalue of fair play, KPI leverages the positive attributes of sport to empower youth to challenge and shift gender, social and cultural norms that reinforce inequality. The organization creates a safe, positive environment through sport to renegotiate these harmful cultural norms, giving young girls the same opportunities as boys to reach their full potential and find better ways to live, work and play together.

Tracy was chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as one of five Olympians (first US Olympian) to be recognized at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics for their Winter edition of Olympians for Life and also received the 2018 Rings of Gold Individual award given by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), both are in recognition of her greatachievements as an Olympian in her sport of Freestyle Skiing as well as the work she has done after competition with Kids Play International. Kids Play was also a finalist for the 2018 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award, the recipient of the 2016 Gatorade for the Love of Sports award for the Let’s Play Fair program in Rwanda. Evans was also honored to receive the Athletes in Excellence award in 2014 and Female Athlete Philanthropist of the Year award from United Athletes Foundation in 2011 alongside Jerry Rice.

Cobi Jones

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2014  –  Burma
  • 2014  –  Brazil
  • 2015  –  Tonga
  • 2015  –  Fiji
  • 2021  –  Virtual
  • 2024  –  Greece

Cobi Jones is a Southern California sports legend, maintaining the title of the longest standing member of the LA Galaxy dynasty. LA’s “Original Cobi,” spent 15 seasons with the Galaxy, as both a player and coach from 1996 – 2010. A 2011 US Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, Cobi is a two-time MLS Cup winner (2002, 2005) with a storied international career with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. A permanent fixture with the team from 1992- 2004, he played in three World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002) and has the most international appearances for the Men’s side with 164 caps. He is also a 1992 Olympian. Prior to his MLS career, Cobi played overseas with Coventry City (English Premier League) and the Brazilian side, Vasco de Gama.

Today, Cobi is one of the sport’s preeminent broadcasters working with FOX Sports, where he was part of both the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup broadcast teams, both as a game analyst (2018) and co-hosting World Cup Tonight (2018-2019). He is the lead English language analyst for Fox’s coverage of Liga MX, Mexico’s top professional soccer league. He has also covered the Bundesliga, US Men’s National Team games, CONCACAF Champions League, the Gold Cup, and various FIFA tournaments for Fox. Cobi has been in the booth as the color commentator calling the LA Galaxy matches since 2012 for Spectrum SportsNet (formerly Time Warner Cable), Pac-12 Network, BeIn Sports, Next VR and he was also part of the 2012 NBC Olympic coverage.

A UCLA Hall of Famer and 1990 NCAA Champion with the Bruins, Cobi works closely with the LA2028 Olympic Committee, The Rose Bowl Institute, the LA84 Foundation, Cal South, AYSO, the US Soccer Foundation, and others. He represented the White House as part of the Presidential Delegation, attending both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in Canada and the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup Final in Brazil. He is also consistently part of the US State Department’s Sports Envoy.

In the Fall of 2020, it was announced that Cobi joined the esteemed ranks as one of the founding investor owners of the NWSL’s newest team, Angel City FC, brining women’s professional soccer to Los Angeles. Cobi joins sports greats Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Serena Williams, actresses Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner, America Ferrara and other notable names as part of the ownership group that is moving the needle for parity and equality in sports.

In an effort to work toward racial equality, improve the gender pay gap and continue to help elevate American soccer on a global level, Cobi will work with US Soccer and the US Soccer Foundation to bring his passion and commitment to the beautiful game to another level.

Chamique Holdsclaw

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2012  –  Senegal
  • 2020  –  Virtual

Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw (born August 9, 1977) is a professional basketball player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) most recently under a contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars. She announced her retirement from the Los Angeles Sparks on June 11, 2007, though she eventually came out of retirement to play with the Atlanta Dream for the 2009 WNBA Season.

Holdsclaw grew up playing basketball. While attending Christ The King Regional High School in Queens, New York, she played for the school’s women’s basketball team, and led them to four straight New York State Championships in basketball. Holdsclaw was named a High School All-American by the WBCA. She participated in the WBCA High School All-America Game in 1995, scoring eight points. She is Native American.

COLLEGE:
Holdsclaw went to the University of Tennessee from 1995 to 1999, where she played under coach Pat Summitt and helped to lead the Lady Vols to the women’s NCAA’s first ever three consecutive Women’s Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The 1998 championship was Tennessee’s first ever undefeated season at 39–0 and also set an NCAA record for the most wins ever in a season. She also helped lead Tennessee to two SEC regular season titles in 1998 and 1999 and to three SEC tournament championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

At Tennessee, Holdsclaw was a four-time Kodak All-America, one of only six women’s basketball players to earn the honor (along with teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Ann Meyers of UCLA, Lynette Woodard of Kansas and LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State.) Holdsclaw finished her career with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, making her the all-time leading scoring and rebounder at Tennessee in men’s or women’s history, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in SEC women’s history, and the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the NCAA tournament women’s history with 470 points and 197 rebounds. She was also only the fifth women’s basketball player in NCAA history to have 3,000 points (a list including Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State, Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State, Lorri Bauman of Drake, Cheryl Miller of USC, and Cindy Blodgett of Maine). She is also one of five women’s collegiate basketball players to ever accumulate over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals (a list that includes teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Sophia Young of Baylor, and Armintie Price of Mississippi.) In 1999, Holdsclaw received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. Holdsclaw also won the Naismith trophy for player of the year twice, in 1998 and 1999 and posted a 134–17 win/loss record during her remarkable career as a Lady Vol. In 2000 she was named Naismith’s Player of the Century for the 1990s and was also part of an ESPY award given to the Lady Vols as Co-Team of the Decade for the 1990s. In 1996, 1997 and 1998, Holdsclaw was named to the Final Four All Tournament team.
In 2006, Holdsclaw was named to a women’s collegiate basketball silver anniversary team for being picked as one of the 25 greatest players of the past 25 years. She was also picked as one of the 5 greatest players in the SEC of the past 25 years.
Holdsclaw is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
WNBA

In the 1999 WNBA Draft, Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics 1st overall. After this selection, Chamique gained the distinction of being the first, and only, female athlete to appear on the cover of SLAM Magazine. Furthermore, Chamique was pictured in a New York Knicks jersey, implying that perhaps she was good enough to be the first woman NBA player.

In her first season, she was named the Rookie of the Year, the first number one draft pick to win the honor. She was also a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game that same year. She is the first averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in her first season. The next year, Holdsclaw was named to the Olympic team, helping to lead them to a gold medal.

During her subsequent seasons in the WNBA, Holdsclaw continued to improve her numbers. In 2002, despite missing several games with an ankle injury, Holdsclaw averaged a double-double per game with 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. By 2003, she was averaging 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. On July 24, 2004, however, she failed to show up for a game against Charlotte, played one more game in reserve and then did not play the rest of the season including the entire playoffs. At first, Holdsclaw refused to discuss the reason for her absence, other than to rule out cancer, pregnancy and drug addiction, but following the season, she told The Washington Post that she was suffering from clinical depression and that she had been ashamed to discuss it with the public. It ends up her grandmother died, the woman who raised her and she went into a real depression. She decided not to stay in Washington because of to many memories.

On March 21, 2005, Holdsclaw was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for DeLisha Milton-Jones.

In May 2006, Holdsclaw took a sudden two-week leave from playing for the Sparks, but later clarified that this was due to the serious illnesses of her father and stepfather. As of late June, she was averaging 14.4 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.

On June 11, 2007, only a few weeks into the 2007 WNBA season, she surprisingly announced she was retiring and did not immediately provide any explanation as to her sudden departure.[5]

On December 17, 2008, the Atlanta Dream traded the 13th pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the rights to Holdsclaw. Holdsclaw stated she definitely considered a return to the WNBA if healthy, and did. Holdsclaw has found herself to be a constant part of the team’s offense and a starter that season, despite an injury that kept her out several games toward the end of the season. However, she returned just in time for one game in the playoffs. The Dream lost to the Detroit Shock.

On May 19, 2010, she was released from the Dream after requesting a trade and did not report to the team. Two days later, she signed with the San Antonio Silver Stars.

Kevin Love

Basketball

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Virtual

Kevin Wesley Love is an NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2008 NBA Draft, playing for them until 2014. During his 2010-2011 season, he scored his career-high of 43 points and 17 rebounds. In 2014, Love was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in which he has led them to numerous wins during the normal season and the NBA Finals. He is a five-time All-Star and won an NBA championship with the Cavaliers in 2016. He was a member of the gold winning US national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In 2018, he established the Kevin Love Fund to provide tools and assistance for people to help improve their physical and emotional well-being; with the intended goal of assisting more than 1 billion people over the next 5 years. With the Kevin Love Fund, he has begun two program that empower high school students to make healthy choices and to the UCLA Athletics Department. In 2020, he announce his fund was pledging $500,000 matched by the UCLA Centennial Term Chair Match, to establish the Kevin Love Fund Chair in UCLA’s psychology department — the investment will support work to help diagnose, prevent, treat, and de-stigmatize anxiety and depression.