The night the NBA helped me change the world for 2 missing Indigenous teens,
Amanda Berry & Gina DeJesus!
Who would be found alive 6 years later!
By Tara Pretends Eagle Weber
12 years ago today, 2 missing Indigenous teens, Amanda Berry, Cherokee & Gina DeJesus, Puerto Rican from Cleveland pictures appeared during the 2007 NBA Finals! That was broadcasted in 83 countries by ABC/ESPN! Amanda, Gina & Michelle Knight would be found alive after being held in captivity for a decade, 9 & 11 years!
This helped ignite with vengeance the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women Movement in the United States-joining Indigenous Nations of Canada in their three decade fight to get this horrific, silent epidemic addressed-let alone acknowledged! Just this week, Canada’s two year long Inquiry on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women concluded-GENOCIDE!
I was determined to show the world that these children who were not white with blue eyes were missing!
After the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2007 Eastern Conference Division, the idea came to me to approach the Cavs to broadcast the missing girls faces. Not only had they become Cleveland’s darlings, but they both were abducted several miles from where the game was being played. That was the angle I used in my letter to the Cavs. I got a call from the Cavs and they had to ask to NBA’s commissioner, David Stern. His response was that he wanted to see a need. So I went to work.
I was encouraged by the recent publications of my articles on Native American entertainers, some released over the AP Wire, that I could really make something happen! During this time, my son and I were extremely sick with Lyme disease! My son was born with it. Yes, it can pass to through the womb! We did not have the health care we needed...but I knew I could make a difference...It was time for change! I HAD to make this happen for the two missing children who in 2007, would have never gotten international publicity for their cases.
It was still the MySpace days, so I reached out to my fellow Indigenous people on there & Rezfox, a Indigenous website and asked them to fill out the form on the NBA website, asking them to post Amanda & Gina’s pictures during the NBA Finals! To my shock, I received a call just a few days later from the NBA. I was told that David Stern said YES to broadcasting their pictures BECAUSE THEY HAD RECEVIED SEVERAL THOUSANDS EMAILS FROM PEOPLE DEMANDING TO SEE THE MISSING GIRLS ON THE NBA PLAYOFFS.
During game 4 of the 2007 NBA Finals, HISTORY WAS MADE!
2 MISSING, INDIGENOUS TEENS PICS WERE SHOWN DURING A PROFESSIONAL SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL!
NEVER SEEN IN THE NFL, NHL OR MBL!
That evening, I picked up Gina DeJesus mother and brought her to the arena where she was interviewed about her daughter’s picture appearing on an international, professional, sports championship broadcast. All because very sick mom with an even sicker child, would not let it go...