by: Scott Mammoser
DeWanna Bonner is ready to be ‘DB’ again. The Phoenix Mercury forward whose contributions as a role player led her to three-consecutive Sixth Woman of the Year Awards to begin her career, has spent the past year in her new role as the mother of twins. After sitting out the 2017 WNBA campaign, the 6-foot-4 Bonner is re-establishing herself as one of the top players in the league during this young season.
“I want to get back to the 2014 status and win a championship,” Bonner said pregame before she scored 25 points in a loss to the Washington Mystics. “That’s going to take a lot of work, it’s not going to come easy, but I think we’re building to get there.”
Through five games this season, Bonner is third on the Mercury in scoring, behind Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, with 11.5 points per game. She leads the team with 7.3 rebounds per game and is second to Taurasi with 3.8 assists.
“It’s fantastic,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said about having Bonner back in the lineup. “Both sides of the ball, and we need that. She’s part of the ‘Big Three.’ I put a lot of pressure on her at times, but that’s because I know she has greatness. But I have to remember, she’s still coming back 11 months after having babies. I can see her getting back to her aggressive mentality, and she’s going to get better and better.”
The 30-year-old Bonner and her wife, Indiana Fever forward Candice Dupree, welcomed newborn girls Cali and Demi into the world last July, igniting a wave of support from the basketball community.
“When you get married, that’s a goal as far as family, and we made it happen,” Bonner said. “Your parental instincts kind of kick in when you have a baby. You definitely want to protect them and make sure they are the top priority in your life and well taken care of. I’ll definitely say they are my main focus, and they always will be from the time they hit the world to the time I have to let them go when they become adults.”
Bonner has spent her entire WNBA career in Phoenix, after being drafted out of Auburn in 2009. The 2015 first-team All-WNBA selection said the biggest obstacle of parenting is making sure she has enough rest.
“I’m trying to find a balance between coming here every day and practicing and giving them my full attention,” she said. “It’s tough to be a parent and coming to practice every day. I’m used to coming home and taking a nap, but now I have to entertain and take care of two little babies.”
Obviously, with Bonner and Dupree playing on opposite sides of the country, the situation becomes challenging. The support of a nanny is pivotal right now.
“We make it work,” Bonner said. “Right now they are visiting her for a couple of days, and they’ll come back to Phoenix. Thank goodness for airplanes and families to make it happen that way.”
It didn’t take long for Cali and Demi to get their passports stamped. Before she suited up with the Mercury this year, Bonner began her comeback with the Czech team USK Praha, averaging about 13 points per game. She said the babies were there for three months under the watch of Dupree, who did not play internationally this winter.
“It took two years to get it all together, but I missed a year of basketball,” Bonner added. “Trying to get back into shape and my old playing style is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Having babies, not one but two, is tough on a woman’s body. One in general is, but having two is very, very tough. Getting back into my playing shape is definitely one of my greatest challenges. My endurance is not what it is, playing 40 minutes at the highest level, but I’m getting back there slowly. After a practice or game, getting to see their faces, they’re so innocent and excited to see me.”
Bonner added that a real joy is that her babies can’t tell the difference whether she played brilliantly or poorly at the end of the day. They don’t see DeWanna or Candice the superstar professional athletes, all they see are moms.