The NABI Foundation was established in 2002 by Mark West, Vice President of Player Programs, Phoenix Suns; Scott Podleski of the Arizona Rattlers; NABI Foundation CEO & President, GinaMarie Scarpa, as well as endorsements from Donnie Nunez and Jerry Colangelo. As a result, the Mission and Vision of the Foundation was established, leading to the first Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) in 2003.
The Foundation would advance by way of sponsorship from the Phoenix Suns and Nike, as well as support from Native American governing bodies; notably, Tex G. Hall, President of the National Congress of American Indians, and Ernie Stevens, President of the National Indian Gaming Association. Predicated on these acknowledgements, financial endowments would ensue from Ak-Chin Indian Community; Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation; Salt River Pima- Maricopa Indian Community. In turn, generating development opportunities.
By the following year, the NABI Tournament hosted 45 teams, the largest Native American basketball tournament in North America and Canada. And by 2005, the Foundation reached 64 teams, attaining supplemental support from national tribes, leading to the Foundation’s establishment of scholarship opportunities for Native American high school athletes, which to-date has allocated over $250,000 in scholarship funds; accordingly, the NABI Fund was developed through the implementation of the “College & Career Fair” at the 2007 Tournament, providing participating athletes a chance to meet with colleges and universities invited to attend NABI.
The Foundation has become a positive staple for Native communities, reaching a mean of 128 teams from 2014 to 2017. NABI’s growth is a testament to the hard work and dedication of its Staff, Board of Directors, Coaches, and Student-Athletes, as well as exceptional support from major sponsors: Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Ak-Chin Tribe, Seminole Tribe (Florida), and Nike N7. Because of this, the Foundation will continue to proudly serve our Native American youth and communities..