On This Mother’s Day, Basketball Isn’t The First Thing On Abby Bishop’s Mind

Later today, the Seattle Storm will finish their preseason slate with a game against the Phoenix Mercury, one last tune-up before they embark on the 2016 campaign. But for Abby Bishop, basketball isn’t the only reason this day is important. It’s Mother’s Day, of course, a special day for everyone, but one that takes on even more significance when you have a growing little girl. A little less than three years ago, Bishop was focused on her budding basketball career. She had won a WNBA championship with the Storm in 2010, the Bronze Medal at the 2012 Olympics with the Australian national team, and was emerging as one of best players in Australia’s Women’s National Basketball League. But her sister Chloe’s personal struggles left her unfit to care for her newborn daughter, Zala. Before Zala was placed into a foster program, Bishop took her in. At first it was just a temporary arrangement, but after a year, the family and courts agreed that Zala staying with Bishop permanently was the best option. “I grew up in a broken family and I just wanted Zala to have a great life,” Bishop explained to the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) of Australia shortly after being granted permanent custody. “I know foster carers do a great job, and they need a pat on the back, but I wanted Zala to stay in the family, and I had no real reason not to take her.” All of a sudden, basketball was no longer the most important thing in Bishop’s life — and it hasn’t been ever since. “You become a mom, and you become second to everything. And that first priority is your child,” Bishop told WNBA.com. “Zala does come first, and basketball is second.” Basketball may not be Bishop’s number one priority anymore, but don’t let that fool you into thinking she doesn’t still have skills. In 2014-15, she took home the WNBL MVP Award while playing for the Canberra Capitals. And so it goes: Zala and basketball, basketball and Zala. The two main loves of her life will always be intertwined. That’s just the way it goes raising a child as a professional basketball player. While Zala doesn’t sit on the bench with her mom during games as she used to when Bishop was playing in Australia, Zala is still there for every leg of Bishop’s basketball journey. Whether it’s Australia, Europe or Seattle, Zala will be right by her side. Raising a young girl while playing professionally is a constant juggling act, but one made easier with how understanding her teams have been. “I think I’ve been really fortunate that every team that I’ve played for has really taken Zala in as part of the family, part of the team,” Bishop said. “The Seattle Storm have been amazing with welcoming her, as well. All the girls really enjoy having her around, whether it’s shootaround on a gameday or after a game. She comes in the locker room and gives the girls hi-fives and those kind of things. She’s a part of it, and she loves (the mascot) Doppler.” As it turns out, all that time around basketball has inspired the youngster. “It’s funny because lately she’s been telling me she wants to train,” Bishop said, chuckling. “So she tells me to yell at her, and she’ll run around the house, or run down the hallway. And I have to say, ‘go Zala, go Zala!’ She says, ‘yell at me mom!’ So she’s really starting to understand, which is cool.” So watch out, Seattle. Having Zala around might be cute and fun for now, but someday soon you might have some competition on your hands. http://www.wnba.com/news/abby-bishop-zala-mothers-day-storm/

Everyday Heroes: WNBA Star Abby Bishop Speaks Out on Raising Her Niece



On the basketball court, Abby Bishop is a fierce forward in the WNBA, set to make her return this month to the Seattle Storm.

Off the court, Bishop, 26, is still adjusting to life as a single mom to her nearly 2-year-old niece, Zala.

Bishop was able to gain legal guardianship of Zala after a medical condition made it unlikely her sister could care for the child, Bishop said.

Bishop told ABC News, “I decided to take Zala on instead of Zala going into foster care.”

Bishop says she took Zala home from the hospital when the newborn was just 2 days old in August 2013. At the time, Bishop was playing professional basketball in Australia and found herself in unchartered territory of navigating a rigorous team schedule while juggling the needs of a newborn.

“It wasn’t about me anymore,” Bishop said. “Life changed very quickly for me and I guess Zala definitely put everything into perspective for me.”

With her perspective changed, Bishop decided to withdraw from her team, the Australian Opals, just before the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.

“She was a small baby, and I had just taken on the responsibility of looking after her,” Bishop said. “I couldn't just take her away and leave her in a hotel with somebody I didn't really know.”

Bishop has hired a nanny to help with Zala as she brings her basketball talents back to the United States with the Storm.

“It has been a commitment financially [and] emotionally,” Bishop said. “I feel like I've missed out on a lot in a way but I haven't because I've got Zala.”

“I've made it work purely just by managing it and finding a way,” she said. “I took her knowing that I could still do it, but I also took her knowing that if I was to never play basketball again, it wouldn't matter to me.”

Bishop said even her own mom had doubts she would be able to balance motherhood with basketball, but she learned to use the doubts against her in her favor.

“There are lots of people that thought that I wouldn't be able to do it, as well, and I think definitely my mom is one of them,” Bishop said. “She thought I wouldn't be able to do it but I'm one of those people that thrive, I guess, off people telling me I can't do things and the doubters -- so, yeah, it's made me work a little bit harder.”


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