A Sikh man becomes the first fan ever inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame
via Superfan Nav / Twitter

Nav Bhatia's name was immortalized over the weekend when he joined the ranks of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Wilt Chamberlain in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While some make it to the HOF for their jump shot or coaching skills, Bhatia is the first to be enshrined for being a fan.

"In the greatest building basketball has, the name Superfan Nav Bhatia will be immortalized," Bhatia said in a tweet. "There is now a turban and the first fan honoured within Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. I am overcome with emotions today."

Bhatia bought a pair of tickets to the Toronto Raptors' first game during their inaugural season in 1995 on a whim and has attended every home game since. He's known for sitting courtside, just below one of the nets.

Rival Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo once called Bhatia the Raptors "most annoying fan."

But to Raptors fans, he's quite the opposite. In fact, he was awarded a championship ring after the team won the NBA Finals in 2019.

But Bhatia's fandom is about a lot more than just aggressively cheering for his team. According to his website, his goal is to "unite people of all ages and backgrounds through the game of basketball so they don't have to face the discrimination [he's] faced as a visible minority."

He came to Canada from India in 1984 to escape religious persecution. When he arrived, he had a hard time getting in a job with his mechanical engineering background because of the way he looked.

Bhatia was able to land a job as a car salesman where he excelled, eventually making his way through the ranks. Now, he now owns two of the most successful Hyundai dealerships in Canada.

In 2018, he received a Royal Bank of Canada Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award, an honor given to those who contribute to the Canadian economy, to Canadian society, and to Canada overall.

His experiences as an immigrant led him to create the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation dedicated to raising money to build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and across the globe.

The superfan's belief in charity mirrors those of his Sikh faith, which put an emphasis on charitable giving. "A wise man said — the true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how much he amasses," Bhatia writes on his site. "No, the true measure of a man is how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give."

As a World Vision ambassador, Bhatia helped raise $200,000 to build restrooms for female students in northern India.

Changing perceptions -- from Sikh to superfan | Nav Bhatia | TEDxToronto www.youtube.com

Bhatia's fandom is also about changing perceptions of Sikhs in Canada and abroad. "As I stand before you today, what do you see?" he asked the audience at his 2014 Ted Talk. "Someone who makes you uncomfortable on your flight? Your convenience store worker? Your gas station attendant? You see my turban and my beard."

After a man mistook him for a cab driver, he realized that he needed to do something to change the narrow perceptions of Sikhs. So he decided to do so through his love of basketball.

"I went to every game. I cheered the most. Everybody noticed this turban guy cheering on the team the loudest. Even the opposing team noticed that," he added. "All of the sudden, this turban guy became the face of the Toronto Raptors."

Bhatia's story is a wonderful example of the power that sports fandom has to bring people together across ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic divides.

"This is what basketball does—it gives us the opportunity to bring the world together," he said.


When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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