It’s hard to miss Elena Delle Donne when the 6-5 Sky star walks around the city.
But the reigning WNBA MVP isn’t always getting stopped to sign autographs. Instead, she’s often fielding requests to pet her 3-year-old Great Dane, Wrigley.
“They always comment how beautiful Wrigley is and ask to pet him,” Delle Donne said. “He loves it.”
Delle Donne has always been surrounded by Great Danes. Her first, named Raider, was found on a walk with her mother, Joan, when Elena was 5 years old, growing up in Wilmington, Del. After their first dog passed, the Delle Donnes got another Great Dane, Champ.
“They’re just such loving and friendly dogs,” Delle Donne said. “Their personality is incredible. It’s different from any other dog I’ve seen.”
Delle Donne knew leaving her family and moving to Chicago would be a bumpy transition, so she bought her third Great Dane during her rookie season in 2013. She didn’t know what to call her new puppy for several weeks but soon found the perfect name after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field.
Delle Donne, who averaged a league high 23.4 points and shot 95 percent from the free-throw line last season, said Wrigley helps her get through the ups and downs of the WNBA season.
“He’s an outlet for me,” Delle Donne said of Wrigley, who stands nearly equal level to Delle Donne when standing on his back paws.
“He keeps things in perspective, he’s like my little boy,” she said. “I can come home after having an awful game or come home from a tough loss and he’s there just celebrating like we won the championship.”
As the Sky look to rebound from an early exit to the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, Delle Donne has her eyes set on the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Delle Donne is among the 12 players selected to the U.S. women’s basketball team for the Rio Games. She is one of three first-time Olympians on the team.
Wrigley won’t be marching next to Delle Donne with Team USA during the parade of nations at the Olympics in Rio, but the handsome Great Dane will be cheering from Chicago.
“He’s probably going to want to wear my Team USA jersey,” Delle Donne joked. “He’s everything to me, I love him. I make sure Wrigley has the greatest life ever and then I come next.”