NEW YORK -- Breanna Stewart didn't think twice about heading to Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday night to join the protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, which bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S.
The WNBA Rookie of the Year, who was in Los Angeles rehabbing a knee injury, was one of a few hundred people to go to the airport .
"I play for Team USA. My dad wears an American flag tank top. I feel deeply patriotic, but I also recognize how privileged I have been, and this ban just goes against everything that makes me proud to be an American," Stewart told The Associated Press in an email Monday night. "I felt like I needed to be a part of fighting for what is right. It's moments like this where you have to take a side, and joining in felt like the right thing to do. It was more, how could I not go?"
Stewart said it was her first protest.
"It really puts things into perspective. We were out there fighting for other humans' safety," Stewart said. "Even in the biggest games [of basketball], you're fighting to do your best, for your teammates and to represent all the work you have put in, but it's not life and death. Though there might be less pressure on me personally because I'm just developing my voice as an activist and there to support the lawyers, etc., who are fighting the battle in court, this is a life and death issue."
The Seattle Storm forward sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in early January while playing in the Chinese basketball league. She said the rehab is going well.
"I am anxious to be back, but I still have a few weeks until I'm 100 percent," the three-time AP College Basketball Player of the Year said. "I'm on the right path and also working on some things that will help keep me more healthy year-round."
Stewart's not the only WNBA player who has been involved in protests the last few weeks. Indiana's Briann January and Marissa Coleman took part in the Women's March on Washington the day after the inauguration.
"There is no greater inspiration than individuals speaking out on their values, and we remain very proud of our players expressing their views to address critical societal issues," WNBA President Lisa Borders told the AP in an email.
January was in awe of the Washington event she attended.
"It was absolutely amazing. It was empowering, inspiring," she said. "It's hard to describe the feeling, so many people that were there, coming together, so much positive energy. No hate, no rioting. We were all out there fighting for things we believe in."
The Indiana Fever guard was happy that other WNBA players like Stewart have gotten involved.
"We have a very informed group," she said. "We have a very educated group of women aware of what's going on in the world, and we're directly affected by what's going on."