Former Duke star Beard leading WNBA, NBA fight against diabetes | Sports

Former Duke star Beard leading WNBA, NBA fight against diabetes



Alana Beard may be having to sit out her second straight full WNBA season with an injury to her left foot, but that hasn’t kept her from being involved in things away from the court.

Washington guard Alana Beard
  • Photo courtesy Washington Mystics
  • Washington guard Alana Beard
The former Duke star — widely considered to be the best player in the history of the Blue Devils’ women’s program — is one of the spokespeople for “Dribble to Stop Diabetes.”

Beard - along with former NBA stars Walt Frazier and Chris Dudley — is a face of a national multimedia campaign developed by the NBA and the WNBA, the NBA Developmental League, the American Diabetes Association and Sanofi-aventis U.S. to encourage fans prevent diabetes by living an active and healthy lifestyle.

“When I was approached about becoming a spokesperson for it I started to do a little bit more research, and ended up calling up my mom and dad and started asking about our family history,” Beard explained in a telephone interview.

“I came to find out my grandfather had it and my grandmother actually had the trait. So what better way to be a part of it than to promote the awareness of diabetes? Because a lot of people just don’t know.”

Beard said the exercise benefits of being a pro basketball player have minimized her risk of developing the disease.

“Obesity is a huge factor,” she explained. “If I weren’t the type of person to live a healthy and pretty active lifestyle I could probably be at risk. It’s important to make sure you stay healthy and live right, because when you have knowledge about it you have a way of preventing it.”

A four time WNBA All-Star who has averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game, she seemed to be well on her way to joining her team — currently 4-15 - for the final stretch before the organization decided it would be better for all concerned if she aimed toward being 100 percent for next season’s opener.

“I tried my best to join my teammates on the court, but after several consultations with our doctors and trainers the decision that made the most sense was to focus on getting completely healthy for next season,” she said. “I’m disappointed, but I look forward to returning on the court in 2012.”

One thing she has been able to do from the bench is watch the development of rookie guard and fellow Duke alumna Jasmine Thomas, the first-round pick who is averaging 5.2 points and 1.6 assists as the top reserve for Trudi Lacey’s club.

“It’s fun playing with other Duke alumni,” Beard said. “It’s nice to see familiar faces since basketball is a team sport and it takes a lot of chemistry. We already had it at Duke so it makes it pretty easy.

“Jasmine has a great willingness to learn. You can tell Jasmine to go out on the court, take two steps, turn right, turn left, back up, and she’s going to do exactly what you ask her to do. And I think that’s a special quality in young players nowadays.”

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