Dallas Mavericks guard/forward Reggie Bullock has been named the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion, the NBA announced today.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said Abdul-Jabbar spoke to the team and then presented the award to Bullock this morning. The moment caught Bullock by complete surprise and Kidd said it was special for everyone to see. 

“Our players are not just basketball players, but they are human,” Kidd shared, “and they do have concerns. I think Reggie is doing an incredible job with what he’s doing off the court.”

The annual award recognizes a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged. 

Bullock wrote a message on Instagram with his award in the background: “Super honored to have won this award! My platform isn’t taken for granted and I’ll keep inspiring and doing what’s right for my ppl 💙🙏‼️”

The native of Kinston, North Carolina, will donate the $100,000 prize to the Kinston Teens Organization.

Bullock’s story of losing two sisters to murder is one of the most tragic in professional sports. Still, he has boldly continued his mission to spread awareness for the LGBTQ+ community in honor of his late sister Mia Henderson. He also speaks out against gun violence in memory of his other sister Kiosha who was murdered at just age 22. 

“Kiosha was my rock,” Bullock said. “She lived with me in Detroit a couple of years after our older sister Mia was killed in a hate crime. We mourned Mia together, and we found a way forward. Kiosha traveled with me to all my games. She would always be in the front row cheering me on. She would be there every day when I got home from practice.”

Mia Henderson

After the 2014 murder of Mia, who was transgender, Bullock has focused on acceptance of all people by working to create truly inclusive communities through neighborhood engagement and national efforts around the LGBTQ movement. He has participated in the NYC Pride March, the GLAAD Media Awards and NBA events for LGBTQ youth and allies.  

Bullock’s unique hairstyle also pays tribute to his slain sisters. The two colored wicks represent Mia and Kiosha and it’s his way of always keeping them at the forefront.

“I’ll continue to keep doing my part as an ally,” Bullock said. “I’ll continue using my platform to gain more knowledge and continue to link with foundations and groups. Love is in my heart…and hopefully, things continue to get better for the trans and LGBTQ community.” 

The timing of the Bullock’s award is important. 

In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign recorded the highest number of fatalities in a single year for the transgender community. According to USA Today, “the violence disproportionately impacted Black transgender women.”

“I support the LGBTQ because, obviously, of what happened to my sister, Mia Henderson,” Bullock said. “She was pretty much one of the backbones in my family, and it was very important for me to use my platform to be able to stand up for her rights.”

Reggie Bullock’s hair is colored with two wicks to honor the memory of his sisters.

On NBA Draft Night in July 2013, the family rented out a small gym at the community center in Kinston. Everyone watched the TV together, and Bullock can still remember Mia’s face that night when his name was called.

“I’ll never forget it,” Bullock said. “Just knowing what I was going to be able to do for our family now, I just looked at her, and I could see on her face that pride.”

On July 16, 2014, Henderson was tragically found stabbed to death in an alley in West Baltimore. She was only 26 years old.

Bullock’s younger sister Kiosha moved in with him, and they worked towards healing, but grief is a slow process and takes time. The duo eventually found joy in basketball arenas, and Kiosha loved to travel to Reggie’s games. She would sit near the front and celebrate as her brother lived out his dreams. They also worked hard to understand more of Mia’s life in the years that followed. 

Then in October 2019, tragedy struck yet again.

This time, Bullock’s beloved sister, Kiosha, was shot and killed at 22.

Bullock’s life would never be the same, and now he’s on a mission to keep his sisters’ lives at the forefront. He says they both lived with magnificent purpose, and he will continue to say their names and tell their stories. 

Upon joining the Mavericks in August of 2021, Bullock forged new relationships with organizations that work in the LGBTQ space in the greater Dallas area, including House of Rebirth, The Black-Tie Dinner, the Resource Center and the Muhlashia Booker Foundation.

Bullock especially desires the NBA community to pause and focus on the trans community — especially Black transgender women like Mia.

Recent studies show that over 90 percent of transgender people killed each year are women of color. They are the most at-risk and die of senseless violence at alarming rates each year. 

Bullock says it’s essential for him to use his platform as a professional athlete to advocate equal rights and visibility for the LGBTQ community. 

Additionally, Bullock created RemarkaBULL, an organization focused on developing revitalized spaces for a stable life in the LGBTQ+ community.  He continues to advocate for equal rights and protections for these individuals including by speaking out against legislation that prohibits transgender youth participation in sports and challenging higher education institutions to consider inclusive policies.

In an effort to help prevent violence against women he partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice to engage with incarcerated communities and elevate the harmful impacts of mass incarceration.

“I know my sister is looking down on me now, loving everything I’m doing for her and the community,” Bullock said. “This is only the beginning; I want to keep it going. I feel like these types of things that happen to this community shouldn’t happen. We all are one, and I feel like there should be a lot more love.”

Bullock spends some of his idle time trying to understand what was going on in his sister’s life before she became transgender and was killed at age 26.

“I really didn’t know what was going through her life to make her change over that way,” he said. “Now that she’s gone, it’s very important for me and the platform that I have to be able to stand up for her rights and understand that those things are going on in the world. It’s all about awareness, and it’s important for my family, too.”

Bullock says he admired Mia’s strength. “She always wanted to be herself. She was loving, caring, and a dancer too, and I loved all that about her.”

Bullock is active in many charities, including NBA Voices for LGBTQ Youth and Allies. He also has been honored during the GLAAD Media Awards.

Bullock has acknowledged that grief isn’t linear, and losing both sisters has brought his family unprecedented trauma. 

A God-fearing man and full of faith, Bullock now has a set of young twin boys. And he’s doing his best to fill them up with unconditional love.

But he knows the sheer pain of losing his two sisters will forever be something that’s challenging to overcome.

“I think that’s probably one of the main reasons why God blessed me back with twins,” the 31-year-old Bullock told Mavs.com. “He saw how much of a help I’ve been to my family and how much of a help I’ve been to everyone around me.

“Twins run in my family, but right now in life, I didn’t expect that I would be having twins. For that to happen that way, I felt like it was a true calling from God – pretty much replacing what I lost back with strength from my two boys, so it’s good.”

The boys are perfectly named, Heart and Soul.

And with that strength from his twins and family, Bullock plans to continue fighting the fight and getting involved with LGBTQ+ rights during his tenure with the Mavs. 

“The love is there, but I still feel like we’re not knowledgeable with a lot of the things that happen for Black trans,” Bullock said. “I had to get woke to it. I was jokingly saying things back in the day to my sister. But once I understood it, I felt a different type of way. But it was all love from the beginning. We lack knowledge. I want to continue to do my part.” 

Bullock stresses that both Mia and Kiosha will always be in his heart. His business in Kinston is also named Mi Kiosha to honor both sisters.

Their spirits continue to live on, and they propel Reggie to push forward and create purpose both on and off the basketball court. 

“I wish things were different,” Bullock said. “I wish I still had my sisters here. But no matter what, nobody can ever take away the memories I have of the good times we had. The joy, the laughter. Those are mine.”

Bullock noted that the NBA community has been outstanding since he spoke up for the transgender and LGBTQ+ communities.

In March 2021, he also joined the Mavs Take ACTION! team during a recent HUDDLE filming to discuss the International Transgender Day of Visibility. (To read the story, click here).  

“I understand the power we have as athletes,” Bullock said. “I’ve been getting a lot of love, and it’s only to the top from here.”

The finalists were determined from the pool of team nominees by the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion selection committee, comprised of social justice leaders and members of the NBA family.

The committee includes inaugural voters Abdul-Jabbar, Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen, and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, as well as Kendall Dudley, the 2021-22 youth representative who is a member of the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders.

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