NEW YORK (AP) Elena Delle Donne broke out into a huge grin when she talked about winning the Dawn Staley Leadership Award again.
The Chicago Sky star was honored by the league Thursday with the award for the second straight season which recognizes a player whose outreach inspires the community and reflects the former WNBA star's leadership, spirit, charitable efforts and love for the game.
''Elena's passion and dedication to her community are truly extraordinary,'' WNBA President Laurel J. Richie said. ''Her deep desire to help those around her inspires every person she meets, and she has distinguished herself as a true leader.''
The league will donate $10,000 to Lyme Aid 4 Kids on behalf of Delle Donne.
''It's amazing,'' she said. ''I think the best thing is, Lyme Aid 4 Kids is getting this money. It's so helpful for their treatment and hopefully getting the right diagnosis for them. Knowing I can help so many kids is so rewarding.''
Delle Donne has been battling the bacterial disease herself since 2008 and became the first national ambassador for the Lyme Research Alliance last year.
''As great a player as she's been for the WNBA on the court over her first few years, Elena's been an even better ambassador off the court for the league,'' Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. ''She really is a special person.''
Besides her work with Lyme Disease, Delle Donne has been a global ambassador for Special Olympics for the past two years. It's another cause dear to the 25-year-old, whose sister Lizzie is blind, deaf and has cerebral palsy and autism. She's hosted basketball clinics, overnight camps and many other events to help raise awareness.
''It is my pleasure to present Elena Delle Donne with the Dawn Staley Award for the second consecutive year,'' said Staley. ''Her model leadership in the community is incredible. Elena has been generous with her time and goes above and beyond the call of duty to enrich the lives of others in her community.''
Staley will present the award to Delle Donne on Sunday before the Sky's game against Seattle.
Delle Donne, who is one of the top candidates for the league's MVP award, returned to the court Thursday after missing the last two games while dealing with a foot injury. She scored 19 points to help the Sky beat the Liberty 82-60 and move within 2 1/2 games of New York for first in the conference.
''It was overcompensation from the ankle that was causing a lot of foot pain,'' she said. ''You have to be careful of worse injuries. I had to get off of it for a few days and be in the boot. I'm still in the boot, but felt good enough to play.''
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