Elena Delle Donne isn't only one of the strongest forces in women's basketball—the 26-year-old is also one of the faces of Nike and DuPont, and she owns two small businesses. Not to mention, the Chicago Sky shooting guard also has her own shoe. 

OFF THE COURT: When Delle Donne made the decision to skip out on UConn's basketball scholarship, many were intrigued. But after that decision, she's now juggling her own business in addition to a basketball. Photos: Gary Dineen

Home court advantage

But those feats weren't accomplished without making some tough choices first. If you've followed Delle Donne's trajectory, you know the 6-foot-4 guard from Wilmington, Delaware made headlines in August 2008, when she enrolled at the University of Connecticut (UConn) only to then leave the top-tier basketball team two days later and return to her home state of Delaware to be closer to her family. UConn has one of the top basketball programs in the United States, and Delle Donne had received a basketball scholarship.

"It wasn't easy to leave at the time, but I know I made the right decision," said Delle Donne, who went on to attend the University of Delaware. "I realize how necessary it was for me to be close to my family, and I don't think I would be where I am now if I didn't come back to Delaware."

A different court

Delle Donne has come a long way since her college basketball days. When the athlete isn’t shooting hoops, she’s running her Etsy shop, DelleDonneDesigns, where she sells tables, or selling apparel through her own line of athletic wear, Elena De11e Donne.

“A couple of her business tips for success are communicating and developing good relationships.”

For all the time she’s spent on the court, Delle Donne said basketball has taught her important lessons she has applied off the court as well.

“Two aspects of basketball that translate well to the business world are the importance of teamwork and communication,” said Delle Donne, who runs her businesses with her friends Amanda Clifton and Megan Gainey. "We all share the workload to complete the orders."

Locking in a strategy

A couple of her business tips for success are communicating and developing good relationships.

“Working on communicating with my sister has shown me how people communicate in different ways and styles, but it is crucial to making sure everyone you are working with is on the same page,” she said.

ENSURING REPRESENTATION: Though Delle Donne speaks for teamwork and communication when it comes to establish a business, she also recommends aligning with brands and business that represent you and share your beliefs.

For Delle Donne, that's also one of the ideals that applies when choosing the brands with which to partner. 

“I work with brands that I identify with and represent me well,” Delle Donne said. “Nike is a great example because I’ve been wearing Nike since middle school, and they provide a great platform to grow the WNBA’s brand nationally.”

For all her success, Delle Donne also carves time out of her busy schedule to connect with fans on social media, with the main goal of showing them the real her.

“Social media provides a great opportunity to grow awareness for women’s basketball and the WNBA, which is important to me,” she said. I want the fans to get to know me, so my posts tend to focus on what’s important to me: my family, basketball and of course, my dog (who even has his own Instagram), Wrigley.”

It’s that ideal that Delle Donne said has fueled her career path thus far.

"Finding something you are passionate about is crucial to being successful," she said.