Both on and off the court, Rebecca Lobo personifies success. As the 1995 Consensus National Player of the Year, Rebecca led the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team to its first National Championship. In 1996, she won a gold medal as the youngest member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team, before embarking on a successful seven-year WNBA career. She was the third Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete female recipient in 1996. This will be her third year to attend the event: first as the female recipient; second as the wife of the keynote speaker and former writer for Sports Illustrator (Steve Rushin); and this year as the master of ceremonies.
Rebecca retired from the WNBA in the fall of 2003 and today works as a television analyst, author, and motivational speaker. In 1999, for the first time in Basketball Hall of Fame history, two lockers (Rebecca’s and Sheryl Swoopes’) honoring female professional players were dedicated in the Hall of Fame’s Vinick All-Star Locker Room. Rebecca joined basketball superstars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, who are among fourteen players who have lockers filled with personal memorabilia in the exhibit on the first floor of the museum. Rebecca was one of the stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association (“WNBA”). She began her career as a starting forward/center for the New York Liberty. She signed with the WNBA on October 23, 1996 and was one of two premier players assigned to New York.
In 2003, she was traded to the Connecticut Sun, a WNBA expansion team located near her alma mater, the University of Connecticut. She was delighted to play the 2003 season in the state where she had experienced her greatest basketball success. In 1999, the Boston Globe named Rebecca number 76 on the list of the top 100 New England sports figures of the twentieth century.
A partial list of Rebecca’s college basketball awards as the 1995 Consensus National Player of the Year from her senior year at the University of Connecticut include: (1) Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year; (2) Honda-Broderick Cup as the Outstanding Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year; (3) Women’s Sports Foundation Woman of the Year (Team Sports), (4) NCAA Woman of the Year; (5) ESPY Awards – Female Athlete of the Year & Female College Basketball Player of the Year; (6) Ban/Naismith National Player of the Year; (7) Wade Trophy National Player of the Year; (8) WBCA/Converse National Player of the Year; (9) Associated Press National Player f the Year; (10) United States Basketball Writers Association (“USBWA”) National Women’s Player of the Year; (11) Kodak First Team All-America (2nd consecutive year); (12) USBWA First Team All-America; (13) Unanimous Associated Press First Team All-America (top vote recipient); (14) College Sports Magazine National Player of the Year; (15) Victor Award recipient as National Player of the Year; (16) Women’s Basketball News Service National Player of the Year; (17) Most Valuable Player of the 1995 NCAA Final Four; (18) Big East Conference Player of the Year (2nd consecutive year).
Rebecca’s 1995 college academic honors include: (1) Rhodes Scholar candidate, (2) NCAA GTE/Co-Team Member of the Year (one of the nation’s two top scholar athletes); (3) GTE/CoSida Women’s Basketball National Academic All-American of the Year; 4) GTE/CoSida First Team Academic All-America (2nd consecutive year); (6) Big East /Soft & Dri Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2nd consecutive year); (7) Big East Academic All-Star team (3rd consecutive year); (8) inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society in April of 1995; (9) only Big East player in history to earn Big East Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in a career – Rebecca did this twice.
In 1997, 1998 and 1999 she served as one of three studio hosts/analysts during ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. During “March Madness”, Rebecca was asked to analyze players’ strengths and weaknesses, offer her assessment of the teams likely to advance to the “Final Four” and predict which basketball program ultimately will be crowned the National Champion.
Rebecca also has provided analysis of women’s college and/or international basketball for CBS, ESPN, NBA Television, Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, College Sports Television, and Connecticut Public Television. Plus Rebecca has been pursuing television broadcasting as a full-time occupation since completing her professional basketball career.
Rebecca is a regular motivational speaker who has provided inspirational speeches to various groups throughout the United States. Rebecca’s audiences typically include: business executives, cancer survivors (with her mother RuthAnn), athletic teams, college students and administrators, civic groups, girls scouts, school children, and corporate employees. She has given presentations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
During her career, Rebecca also has appeared on several television talk shows including: “The David Letterman Show”, “Live! With Regis and Kathy Lee”, “The Rosie O’Donnell Show”, “Good Morning America”, “CBS This Morning”, “The Charlie Rose Show”, “The Conan O’Brien Show”, “The Maury Povich Show”, “The Daily Show”, and “Up Close” on ESPN.
Rebecca also remains committed to charitable work. In 2001, Rebecca and her mother, RuthAnn, founded “The RuthAnn and Rebecca Lobo Scholarship in Allied Health” at the University of Connecticut to encourage diversity in the health professions.
Rebecca became one of the Children’s Miracle Network (“CMN”) Champions in 1996. CMN has raised over 1.4 billion dollars (i.e., $1,400,000,000) in charitable donations for children’s hospitals since its inception in 1983. Each year, she visits children at CMN affiliated hospitals in addition to giving speeches to CMN’s corporate sponsors regarding the importance of CMN’s mission. She also annually tapes advertisements for CMN’s nationally televised fundraiser in an effort to increase viewership and the level of contributions generated by the program.
She actively supports the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (“HSF”). The HSF is the nation’s oldest and premier provider of college scholarships to Hispanic Americans. Since being founded in 1975, the HSF has awarded more than 36,000 scholarships totaling more than $38,000,000 to college and college-bound students. On July 8, 1999, the HSF announced receiving a $50,000,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. – the single largest amount ever given to promote college education among Hispanic Americans. In November 1999, Rebecca selected the HSF as the recipient of a $10,000 charitable donation the “Wheel of Fortune” game show offered in lieu of an appearance fee.
Rebecca also supports Teach For America, a non-profit organization that sponsors a national corps of outstanding and diverse recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teaching in our country’s most under-resourced urban and rural schools. Each year 1000 corps members reach 100,000 students. In 1998 and 1999, Rebecca prepared and taught a lesson to New York City public school children during “Teach For America Week” (i.e., a designated week each October) to highlight the need for hiring and retaining good teachers in the public sector.
Rebecca was an honored guest at the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s 10th Annual Celebrity Sports Auction. She helped raise money to brighten the lives of chronically, critically and terminally ill children by participating in a live auction of celebrity memorabilia and donating autographed items for a silent auction. Nearly 700 people attended the event and it raised almost $200,0000 due in large measure to the efforts of Rebecca and other athletes who donated their time and autographed souvenirs to benefit this special cause.
Rebecca also was a celebrity spokesperson for the American Library Association’s “Teen Read Week ’99” (October 17 – 23, 1999). Rebecca appeared on a “READ” poster holding a favorite book from her childhood. The national campaign was designed to impress the importance of reading on America’s teenagers by showing well-known public figures enjoying a good book. A partial list of other celebrities who have appeared on “READ” posters includes: Mel Gibson, Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Courtney Cox, Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, Cindy Crawford, Shaquille O’Neal and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Rebecca also provides autographed items for charitable auctions on an on-going basis to raise money for worthwhile causes throughout the United States.
She is married to former Sports Illustrated columnist (and former keynote speaker for the Iba Awards) Steven Rushin and they have two beautiful daughters, Siobhan and Maeve.