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Delle Donne returns home for a special afternoon with Best Buddies

Philadelphia Eagles receiver Brad Smith looks for a teammate during Saturday's game against local Delaware celebrities.
Philadelphia Eagles receiver Brad Smith looks for a teammate during Saturday's game against local Delaware celebrities.
Mike Lang

NEWARK -- Elena Delle Donne stood at center court of the Bob Carpenter Center on Saturday afternoon in the middle of a basketball-filled day and did not put up a single shot, but it was still pretty special for the former Ursuline Academy and University of Delaware star.

Delle Donne, the reigning WNBA rookie of the year, returned to Newark for the Blue-Gold All-Star Basketball Games, which benefit Best Buddies Delaware and the state's developmentally disabled. She was inducted into the Blue-Gold Hall of Fame, only the third person so honored. The gesture touched Delle Donne, whose sister Lizzie is blind and deaf and has cerebral palsy. Delle Donne also was named a Special Olympics global ambassador earlier this year.

“It’s incredible to be inducted," she said. "It’s quite an honor.It’s a special moment, and to celebrate it at the Bob is even better.”

Delle Donne said watching the games gave her time to reflect on the success she had at the arena, not just with the Blue Hens but in high school. Ursuline reached the state championship game all five years she was on the varsity, winning four.

After being honored, posing for pictures and signing a few autographs, Delle Donne got to work coaching a team of local celebrities against a team of Philadelphia Eagles. Her team was trailing badly at halftime, but when the second half began, the score was magically zero to zero. More Delle Donne magic?

"At halftime we cleared the score to help with team morale a little bit, and I think it helped us gain a little boost in the second half," she joked. It must have worked because the teams tied in the second half.

Delle Donne said she was itching to get out on the floor and play, but that will have to wait. She is headed back to Chicago, where she plays for the WNBA's Sky, on Sunday, getting ready for her second pro season. Training camp begins April 27.

“I can’t wait for the season to get started."

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