Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart described being molested as a child by an unnamed man in a first-person article published at the Players' Tribune on Monday.
"I don't know how to say this part. I haven't told many people," Stewart wrote. "I'm not the most vulnerable person—I don't talk about my feelings much—so this is uncomfortable. I was molested for years."
Stewart, 23, said the abuse began when she was 9 years old and continued for two years. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and one of the most decorated women's college basketball players in history, Stewart said basketball was her refuge during the years of abuse:
"I'd only been playing basketball for two years at that point—community leagues and AAU. My parents had put me in the sport just to keep me busy. I was a kid with a lot of free time and nothing to do. Eventually, nobody had to make me go. I wanted to play. Basketball became a sort of safe space for me. But no space felt completely safe.
"I knew what was going to happen when I went to that house. But how do you tell your parents that you don't want to go for a visit—ever—without explaining why? I felt like I couldn't tell anyone."
Stewart said she eventually told her parents of the abuse at age 11. She described giving a statement to police and said the man eventually confessed to his crimes.
"I’ve cried. I cry most after I tell someone who’s important to me," Stewart wrote. "Talking about what I went through, explaining all of it — it guts me. I’m forced to relive it. That’s when it hits that what happened is real. It wasn’t just an awful nightmare. It wasn’t some other life I lived at another time.
"I’m angry he took advantage of me as a child. I’ll never get that time back. And what memories I still have, I’ll never be able to erase them. Sometimes I wish for a few more black holes."
Stewart is the latest major athlete to speak out on her experience with sexual abuse. Former Olympian McKayla Maroney detailed her allegations against former U.S. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar earlier this month.