Special Olympics Emirati @ NBA All-Star LA weekend

By Rajive Singh

ABU DHABI 18 February 2018: A UAE Special Olympics athlete will represent the Middle East this weekend at NBA’s most high-profile and star-studded event of the year.

Butti al Sheezawi will take to the court at the NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles surrounded by some of the most famous names in basketball including LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Al Sheezawi is flying into LA as part of a program between Special Olympics and NBA Cares, the league’s global social responsibility program, to promote Unified Sports — an initiative around social inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities through shared sports training and competitive experiences.

Al Sheezawi will also participate in the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game, supported by Shamma Bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chair of the Special Olympics UAE board. The game will take place at Los Angeles Convention Center on Saturday and Al Sheezawi will play alongside fellow Special Olympics athletes from around the world, including Kenya, Serbia, the U.S. and Germany, as well as NBA legends and current WNBA players.


Al Sheezawi, 31, will represent the UAE next month at Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018 in Abu Dhabi and again at Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. He previously represented the UAE at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Born in the UAE, Al Sheezawi’s parents noticed at a young age that he enjoyed watching basketball on TV. By the age of 12 and encouraged by a teacher he started playing the sport and by the time he was 15 turned professional.


The NBA All-Star weekend is a hotbed for celebrities and Al Sheezawi rubbed shoulders with Hollywood and sporting greats on Friday night as he watches the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, featuring amongst others: actor Jamie Foxx, rapper Common, sprinter Andre De Grasse, golfer Bubba Watson, boxer Terence Crawford and NBA legend Tracy McGrady.

Al Sheezawi and his fellow Special Olympics athletes will then watch the iconic Slam Dunk competition, Three-Point Contest and Skills Challenge on Saturday night before enjoying the main event on Sunday – the 67th NBA All-Star Game, captained by the two biggest names currently in the sport – Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry.