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"But, actually, I enjoy that people don't have to worry about me. "You're probably never going to know if something bad is happening in my life.

I think I was just made that way." Sue Bird is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm.

She wasn't going to say certain things in the media. Now, when you talk about diversity or inclusion or racial inequality or sexism or other hot-button topics, she's going to give it to you how she sees it.

I love and respect that about her." Indeed, now Bird is more fully voicing her heart, her experience, her views, her truth.

She has never been in better shape and isn't talking about retirement anytime soon.

Her accolades are already legendary: two NCAA titles at UConn when the Huskies were establishing their dynasty in the early 2000s; two WNBA championships with the Storm; four Olympic gold medals with Team USA; three world championship golds; and four Euro League titles while competing in Russia.

"We have a lot in common and just sort of clicked," Rapinoe says. And Rapinoe has been very vocal in her belief that being out is important because it can help young people with their self-esteem.

was gay while she was at UConn, but "nobody ever talked about it when I was in high school or college." She and Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi -- Bird's close friend and former UConn teammate, who in May married recently retired WNBA player Penny Taylor in a wedding that Bird attended -- never discussed the topic until they were playing together in Russia in the mid-2000s."They said that she didn't look devastated, she was interacting with her teammates, living her life about the same as if she hadn't been injured," Herschel Bird remembers. They thought she was taking it too well." Herschel says it's as if Sue has expertly calibrated herself to keep a safe distance from mental or physical burnout. Something she once heard Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski say has stuck with her: The psyche of the best players sometimes is taken for granted because they seem to be fine, even when they're not."And I thought, Yeah, those people can get pushed to the side and not worried about," Bird says.How she describes herself in social settings might hint at how she eventually expands her comfort zone. "I'm usually just dipping my toe in the water until the extrovert part of me can come out." After Sue Bird hit a crucial basket to help Seattle win Game 1 of the 2010 WNBA Finals, the Storm went on to sweep Atlanta for their second championship.Bird calls it one of the happiest moments of her career. The renowned Bird historian, aka Sue's lifelong best friend, grew up around the corner from her in Syosset, some 30 miles east of midtown Manhattan. They've been there for each other through everything, including Sue's parents' divorce when she was in high school, her injuries and the doubts she might not have shared with anyone else. Of course, they are also relentless competitors, even trying to outdo each other with birthday presents.

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