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Indiana Fever guard, 5-year-old son go on professional basketball journey together

Who's Indiana Fever's biggest fan? For guard Bria Hartley, it's her 5-year-old son, Bryson. He's at every game, practice, film session and overseas meeting.

INDIANAPOLIS — This offseason, the Indiana Fever made some big moves as they rebuild, including a major trade that brought guard Bria Hartley here to Indianapolis — but she didn’t come alone. You can often find her 5-year-old son, Bryson, close by. 

When Hartley was in her third year in the league, playing for the Washington Mystics at the time, she found out she was pregnant.

“I didn't really tell anyone,” Hartley recalled. “Back with the old CBA [collective bargaining agreement], we didn’t have any maternity coverage, I wasn’t sure if I’d get all of my salary, and it was only my third year, so I wasn’t making that much money or anything, so I wanted to make sure I got it all.”

Hartley said she continued playing until she was about four-and-a-half to five months pregnant. Then, in January 2017, Bryson was born. 

“Honestly, my best years were after I had him,” Hartley said. “Best playing years and everything.” 

Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2015 file photo, Washington Mystics guard Bria Hartley (9) lines up a shot over Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles (34) during the second half of a WNBA basketball game in Minneapolis. Hartley will miss the remainder of the season because she is pregnant with her first child. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File)

Since then, they’ve navigated this basketball journey together. From New York to Phoenix to the WNBA bubble in Tampa and most recently Istanbul, Turkey, where Bria goes, Bryson goes, too, which includes international perks.

“He’s there sitting there when we have film, even when I was overseas, he was in meetings,” Hartley said. “It’s just me, I mean, there’s time when I have help, but there’s times where it’s also tough for someone to be there all the time. He’s pretty well-trained. He can sit on the side.” 

If Hartley is part of the team, so is Bryson. And, as a young mother playing in the WNBA, she hopes other women see it’s possible to do both.

“Even when I was pregnant, there were so many people saying, 'You’re not gonna come back the same.' 'You can’t have a kid and be a professional.' I think I just wanted to change that stigma,” Hartley said. 

She also wants to set a good example for her son. 

“Now, he’s watching and, you know, sometimes you have your days when you’re not in the mood, but at the same time, you have to be an example for him,” Hartley said. “You’re not going to have your best days all the time. You have to keep pushing, you have to keep moving forward.” 

So, when the game is over and Hartley is out of uniform, just know she’s clocking in off the court as Bryson’s mom.

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