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08-May-2019 19:06

But I never felt that made me any less real." Rapinoe says, "Sue has the same convictions about her life and the things she believes in as I do but, I think, does it in a different way."It's important to create space for athletes -- and people in general who are in the spotlight and don't want all the attention on them -- to be who they are in a way that's comfortable for them." But give Bird time."But, actually, I enjoy that people don't have to worry about me. "You're probably never going to know if something bad is happening in my life.I think I was just made that way." Sue Bird is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm.

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Bird calls it one of the happiest moments of her career. The renowned Bird historian, aka Sue's lifelong best friend, grew up around the corner from her in Syosset, some 30 miles east of midtown Manhattan. They've been there for each other through everything, including Sue's parents' divorce when she was in high school, her injuries and the doubts she might not have shared with anyone else. Of course, they are also relentless competitors, even trying to outdo each other with birthday presents.

It's a gorgeous summer day in Seattle, with the afternoon sun shining on Sue Bird as she sips organic coffee outside a shop in her Queen Anne neighborhood.

She wears a "Femme Forever" T-shirt, jeans and white Chucks.

"So even though I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn't right for me at the time. It's my journey." Bird leans back in a wooden Adirondack chair and settles in to detail the essential parts of her story -- with help from those who know her best. The two attended UConn's 100th consecutive victory in Storrs, Connecticut, last February.

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was gay while she was at UConn, but "nobody ever talked about it when I was in high school or college." She and Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi -- Bird's close friend and former UConn teammate, who in May married recently retired WNBA player Penny Taylor in a wedding that Bird attended -- never discussed the topic until they were playing together in Russia in the mid-2000s.

"Where the league is now is appropriate, I think, in terms of support." But the WNBA, Bird says, faces many other challenges. women's soccer team's earlier-than-expected exit at the 2016 Olympics, Rapinoe had time to see other events, including women's basketball.