By Dorothy J. Gentry
Photos: Getty Images
Reggie Bullock received the surprise of his life Sunday morning.
He was asked to take part in a Zoom call and was surprised who was on the other end; the legendary Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jabbar was on the zoom, along with Bullock’s Dallas Mavericks teammates, to congratulate him on being named the 2022 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award winner.
The 31-year-old veteran NBA wingman was selected from a group of five finalists for his dedication to 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 disadvantaged, specifically within the LGBTQ+ community.
Bullock is using his NBA platform to bring awareness to two issues that have affected he and his family deeply and personally: transgender awareness and gun violence.
On July 16, 2014, Mia Henderson was found stabbed to death in an alley in West Baltimore. She was only 26 years old.
Henderson was Bullock’s brother and then later became a transgender woman.
Then in October 2019 his family experienced tragedy again when his younger sister, 22-year-old Kiosha, was shot and killed. Since then, Bullock has been on a mission to keep their memories alive and to raise awareness around these issues. He’s become a voice for the Black transgender community and has become involved with LGBTQ+ rights as well as efforts to fight gun violence.
“We are all one, and I believe love lies in everybody’s heart,” said Bullock. “It’s incredibly important to me as a cisgender athlete to stand in support of the trans and LGBTQ+ community.”
Upon joining the Mavericks last summer, Bullock immediately connected with organizations in the Dallas area, including Abounding Prosperity, Dallas Southern Pride, House of Rebirth, The Black-Tie Dinner, the Resource Center and the Muhlashia Booker Foundation, to take action in support of their work.
“I think that’s huge for Reggie winning that award, which was cool,” said Mavs head coach Jason Kidd. “Our players are not just basketball players, but they are human, and they do have concerns, and I think Reggie is doing an incredible job with what he’s doing off the court.”
Ahead of National Day of Trans Visibility on March 31, 2022, Bullock participated in a Mavs Take ACTION! initiative conversation titled Voices Unheard, Uplifting Trans Perspectives, alongside leaders from the Muhlayshia Booker Foundation. Booker was a 22-year-old African American trans woman who was assaulted and murdered in Dallas in 2019. The assault was captured on a viral video.
The conversation reflected upon the struggles of losing a trans family member, challenges within the community and how allies can provide protection, partnership, visibility, and inclusion.
Bullock created Remarka-BULL, 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.
In June 2021, he wrote an article published in the Players Tribune titled: “I Just Wanna Say My Sisters’ Names” about the murders of his sisters and advocating for greater awareness around gun violence and crimes against women.
As a recipient of the award, Bullock has selected Kinston Teens, a youth-led organization focused on community development and youth empowerment in his native Kinston, NC, to receive a $100,000 contribution on his behalf.
His sisters would be so very proud of the success he is having with the Mavs and would be grateful for the way he is speaking out in their memory, he said.
“They would love everything I am doing for the organization, and they would love me just being able to tell their stories and using my platform to talk about the LGBQT+ community and gun violence.”