Everyday Heroes: WNBA Star Abby Bishop Speaks Out on Raising Her Niece

PHOTO: WNBA star Abby Bishop is caring for her nearly 2-year-old niece, Zala.Courtesy Abby Bishop
WNBA star Abby Bishop is caring for her nearly 2-year-old niece, Zala.

On the basketball court, Abby Bishop is a fierce forward in the WNBA, set to make her return this month to the Seattle Storm.

Off the court, Bishop, 26, is still adjusting to life as a single mom to her nearly 2-year-old niece, Zala.

Bishop was able to gain legal guardianship of Zala after a medical condition made it unlikely her sister could care for the child, Bishop said.

Bishop told ABC News, “I decided to take Zala on instead of Zala going into foster care.”

Bishop says she took Zala home from the hospital when the newborn was just 2 days old in August 2013. At the time, Bishop was playing professional basketball in Australia and found herself in unchartered territory of navigating a rigorous team schedule while juggling the needs of a newborn.

“It wasn’t about me anymore,” Bishop said. “Life changed very quickly for me and I guess Zala definitely put everything into perspective for me.”

With her perspective changed, Bishop decided to withdraw from her team, the Australian Opals, just before the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey.

“She was a small baby, and I had just taken on the responsibility of looking after her,” Bishop said. “I couldn't just take her away and leave her in a hotel with somebody I didn't really know.”

Bishop has hired a nanny to help with Zala as she brings her basketball talents back to the United States with the Storm.

“It has been a commitment financially [and] emotionally,” Bishop said. “I feel like I've missed out on a lot in a way but I haven't because I've got Zala.”

“I've made it work purely just by managing it and finding a way,” she said. “I took her knowing that I could still do it, but I also took her knowing that if I was to never play basketball again, it wouldn't matter to me.”

Bishop said even her own mom had doubts she would be able to balance motherhood with basketball, but she learned to use the doubts against her in her favor.

“There are lots of people that thought that I wouldn't be able to do it, as well, and I think definitely my mom is one of them,” Bishop said. “She thought I wouldn't be able to do it but I'm one of those people that thrive, I guess, off people telling me I can't do things and the doubters -- so, yeah, it's made me work a little bit harder.”