Press Releases

Ricky Rubio joins Special Olympics as Global Ambassador


NBA Star to Sponsor Unified Basketball Tournament

Basketball star Ricky Rubio has become the latest high-profile supporter of Special Olympics with the NBA player being unveiled as a Global Ambassador for the sport and inclusion movement. At an event in Barcelona’s Pabellón Olímpico del Club Joventut Badalona, where the Spanish basketball player began his professional career, Rubio officially signed up as a Global Ambassador.

Rubio, who plays for the Utah Jazz in the NBA, will also support Special Olympics España as an ambassador. And his first act will be to support Special Olympics España’s upcoming II Unified Basketball tournament. This event takes place in Badalona, the cradle of basketball, from June 29th to July 1st. Rubio will sponsor this event which will feature 12 teams representing many regions across Spain. In total, 110 Unified players (athletes with and without intellectual disabilities), 15 coaches and about 20 volunteers and coaches will take part.

Ricky Rubio, basketball star with Utah Jazz in the NBA, with Special Olympics athletes at event to announce Ricky as new Special Olympics Global Ambassador in Barcelona’s Pabellón Olímpico del Club Joventut Badalona on 19 June.

Unified Sports is an integral part of the Special Olympics movement and sees players with and without intellectual disabilities become teammates. With more than five million athletes around the world in 172 countries, Special Olympics is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through sports. In Spain there are 20.000 athletes and 5.000 volunteers and coaches that participate in 25 sports disciplines.

Special Olympics España together with the Fundación Joventut Badalona have promoted this second edition of the Unified Basketball tournament to ensure its continuity and deliver the enormous benefits associated with such an event. “The first edition of the tournament in Getafe during the fall of last year was a big step of this initiative born with the full will to satisfy this social need and to encourage this 'unification' at other levels of life, but especially in sport” commented Miguel Sagarra, President of Special Olympics Spain.

Speaking about the appointment as a Global Ambassador, Rubio said: “We can help them (the Special Olympics athletes) but they can help us more. They do all they can with plenty of excitement… and they always help each other.”

Ricky Rubio, basketball star with Utah Jazz in the NBA, alongside panellists at event to announce Ricky as new Special Olympics Global Ambassador in Barcelona’s Pabellón Olímpico del Club Joventut Badalona on 19 June.

Welcoming Ricky Rubio to the Special Olympics movement, David Evangelista, President and Managing Director, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia commented: “Special Olympics is thrilled to welcome Ricky Rubio to our movement as our newest Global Ambassador. Ricky represents the best in sport. As a 14-year-old he was the youngest player ever to take to the court in the Spanish ACB League. He defied the odds—just as Special Olympics athletes do in communities around the world. Today, Ricky is a household name in the NBA and global basketball. We are so proud to have Ricky join our movement as a Global Ambassador, and as a key voice to show the world the power sport can have in making social inclusion a reality for all. Together with Ricky, we continue on our quest to create a truly Unified Generation through sport.”

Adding to Evangelista's words, Special Olympics Spain's President, Miguel Saggara said that having Ricky Rubio as a Global Ambassador is an example to follow: “Thanks to his support, we will manage to get to more athletes and make visible the work that this international movement, Special Olympics, is doing all over the world. Plus, the fact that he is endorsing the Unified Basketball Tournament in Badalona at the end of June will mean an enormous step is taken forward towards the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.”

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 5 million athletes and Unified partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, United Airlines, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, Safilo Group, and TOYOTA. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium.

About Special Olympics España

Special Olympics Spain is a non-profit organization founded more than 20 years ago as a platform of promotion of sports for people with intellectual disabilities, as a means to improve their quality of life. We offer several annual sports programs, giving people with ID the possibility of participating in sports activities through weekly training sessions and championships (national and international). We have currently 17 accredited programs. We have over 21.000 athletes and 5.000 volunteers and coaches that participate in 25 sports disciplines.


Fiona Hynes
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia

Maria Fusté
Special Olympics España