Cleveland Cavaliers Player Tristan Thompson Announced as Special Olympics Global Ambassador

Team will also partner closely with Special Olympics France, Special Olympics Brazil and Special Olympics Ohio to help increase youth access to sports worldwide.

CLEVELAND, OH, 2024 JANUARY 9 -- The Cleveland Cavaliers and Special Olympics International announced today that Cavaliers Player Tristan Thompson has been named Special Olympics' newest Global Ambassador.

“I’m excited and honored to partner with Special Olympics,” said Thompson, whose brother Amari was born with disabilities. “This is a great opportunity to support an amazing organization, but also use my platform and voice to help support athletes with intellectual disabilities. As a Global Ambassador, I will help inspire others to be more inclusive and take action to help change the stereotypes that exist for people with disabilities.”

Thompson, who was selected by the Cavaliers with the 4th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, was the highest-drafted Canadian-born player in league history. Thompson spent his first nine NBA seasons (2011-2020) in Cleveland, where he played a vital role in the team's four straight NBA Finals appearances and the franchise's first-ever NBA championship in 2016. He returned to Cleveland during the 2023-2024 season and remains one of only four players in franchise history to accumulate at least 5,000 points and 5,000 rebounds, joining LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Brad Daugherty. Additionally, Thompson holds the franchise record for most offensive rebounds in a single season with 306 in 2012-2013. 

As a Special Olympics Global Ambassador, Thompson will leverage his global platform and personal experiences to help promote inclusion through sport. He will also work with local and global entities through activations established by Special Olympics worldwide including supporting Special Olympics France, Special Olympics Brazil, Special Olympics Canada and Special Olympics Ohio.

"Special Olympics is honored to name Tristan Thompson as our newest Global Ambassador," said Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International. "At Special Olympics, a more inclusive world begins with sports, and the impact extends far beyond the playing field. Tristan demonstrates passion and dedication to creating a more inclusive world where exclusion has no place, and everybody belongs and is respected. We join Tristan in his commitment to elevating inclusion in communities around the world and look forward to working with him to positively change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities."

Thompson joins a star-studded list of Special Olympics Global Ambassadors, including current NBA and WNBA players Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Andre Drummond (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Milwaukee Bucks), and Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), as well as former NBA legends Ricky Rubio, Dikembe Mutombo, Sam Perkins, and Yao Ming. Thompson will kick off his ambassadorship with a week of inclusion-focused events with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Special Olympics France to celebrate the NBA Paris Game 2024, featuring the Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets.  

"Special Olympics helps us deliver an inclusive experience where athletes of any background or ability can enjoy the thrill and excitement of competing in sports while building life skills,” said Nic Barlage, Cleveland Cavaliers, Rock Entertainment Group, and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse CEO. "We couldn't be more thrilled to join Tristan and Special Olympics in their impactful mission and kick off a year-long partnership with our first inclusion program here in Paris. We look forward to continuing to support their work in our local community through projects with Special Olympics Ohio."

This afternoon, Thompson and the Cavaliers will host 40 Special Olympics France athletes from IME Les Glycines (a specialized school for students with intellectual disabilities) for a basketball clinic at Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan. Following the clinic, these Special Olympics athletes will join 31 students from the local school Ecole Élémentaire Du Haut Des Guerines to sign a pledge to commit to the #StrongerTogether project. The #StrongerTogether project will bring together athletes from Special Olympics France and students from  local schools to participate in Special Olympics Unified Sports® programming. Special Olympics Unified Sports® activities bring people with and without intellectual disabilities together to train and compete on the same team.