Identity

NBA's Reggie Bullock Opens Up About Losing His Transgender Sister to Murder

A new documentary from Vice Sports follows Bullock's journey into LGBTQ activism after his sister Mia Henderson 2014 murder in Baltimore.

by Diana Tourjée
Jan 16 2019, 6:31pm

Screengrab of Vice Sports video.

Reggie Bullock is a small forward and shooting guard for the Detroit Pistons, currently finishing his sixth season in the NBA, marking the end of a two-year contract worth $5 million. The 27-year-old is about to become a free agent, building hype for the future of his career as, he recently told The Detroit News, "the best shooter in the league."

Bullock's success in sports began in high school and elevated him to new heights. But his professional life has more recently become entwined with social justice activism after his older sister, Mia Henderson, a transgender woman, was killed in July 2014. Henderson was stabbed to death in Baltimore, a violent fate that follows a disproportionate number of transgender women to their end. Mic's 2016 project to count and analyze the deaths of transgender women, Unerased, found that one in 2,600 transgender women of color between 14 and 34-years-old, is murdered, compared to one in 12,000 in the general population.

In 2015, a man named Shawn Oliver was charged in Henderson's murder, but was later acquitted on all counts. Though Bullock and his family had been supportive of Henderson, her death shocked her brother into action. Today, he serves as an ally to LGBT people, and has appeared at events like NYC Pride, the GLAAD Media Awards, and the NBA Voices event for LGBT Youth and Allies. Bullock views his position in sports with great responsibility and power; because sports is such a widely consumed form of entertainment in the US, he can use his platform in the NBA to help make society more hospitable toward LGBT people. It's something he can do for his late sister, whose name he writes on his shoes before games, and whose face is tattooed on his body.

As a straight man and a player in the NBA, Bullock is uniquely positioned within popular American cultural to educate others about the humanity of transgender individuals, and the alarming rates of violence they face. But for Bullock, it is simply personal. He lost someone he loved in one of the worst ways imaginable, and he won't stop speaking out, or saying her name.

Watch Vice Sports' new documentary following Bullock as he goes to Pride and opens up about becoming an advocate.