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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.
Tristan Thompson walks on a court to give a high-five to a young Special Olympics athlete
Special Olympics Announces Tristan Thompson, NBA Champion, Cleveland Cavaliers as Newest Global Ambassador. In celebration of the NBA Paris Game 2024 this week, Tristan joins Special Olympics France athlete Hugo Macia on the court today for a basketball skills clinic at Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan.
Photo credit courtesy of Cleveland Cavaliers.

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. 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."
Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics International

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. 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."
Nic Barlage, Cleveland Cavaliers, Rock Entertainment Group, and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse CEO

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.

About Special Olympics

Founded in 1968, Special Olympics is a global movement to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. We foster acceptance of all people through the power of sport and programming in education, health and leadership. With over four million athletes and Unified Sports® partners and one million coaches and volunteers in 200 countries, Special Olympics delivers more than 30 Olympic-type sports and nearly 50,000 games and competitions every year. Engage with us on: X, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Learn more at


The Cleveland Cavaliers are the 2016 NBA Champions and the 2007, 2015-2018 Eastern Conference champions. The team plays and operates Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse are part of Rock Entertainment Group. The Group also includes the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL, the Cleveland Charge of the NBA G League, Cavs Legion of the NBA 2K League, Legion Lair Lit by TCP home of Cavs Legion in Cleveland, and Cleveland Clinic Courts.

The Cavaliers are frequently recognized for their extensive community support and engagement programs and contributions, workplace diversity and inclusion leadership, and an on-going economic impact that now registers in the billions of dollars locally. Dan Gilbert is Chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gilbert and his Family of Companies have now invested over $1.6 billion in Cleveland. Gilbert is also Founder and Chairman of Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and Founder and Chairman of ROCK, the For-More-Than-Profit Family Office for the Gilberts and their Family of Companies. Nic Barlage is the Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and Rock Entertainment Group CEO, and the Cavaliers team is led by President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman, General Manager Mike Gansey and Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

Media Contact

Christy Weir

Special Olympics International
Vice President, International Media Relations & Communications
+1 202 738-8511

Susan Oguche

Cleveland Cavaliers