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Ruth Riley
Miami Heat
PositionSenior Director of Team Development
Personal information
Born (1979-08-28) August 28, 1979 (age 44)
Ransom, Kansas, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight185 lb (84 kg)
Career information
High schoolNorth Miami (Denver, Indiana)
CollegeNotre Dame (1997–2001)
WNBA draft2001: 1st round, 5th overall pick
Selected by the Miami Sol
Playing career2001–2014
PositionForward / center
Career history
2001–2002Miami Sol
2003–2006Detroit Shock
2007–2011San Antonio Silver Stars
2012Chicago Sky
2013–2014Atlanta Dream
Career highlights and awards
Stats at
Stats at
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Women's Basketball
Representing  United States
World University Games
Silver medal – second place 1999 Palma de Mallorca Team Competition
Gold medal – first place 2004 Athens Team Competition

Ruth Ellen Riley Hunter (born August 28, 1979) is a retired American professional basketball player (a center), playing most recently for the Atlanta Dream in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Her Notre Dame team won the NCAA women's championship in 2001, and her Detroit Shock team won the WNBA championship in 2003 and 2006. Riley was the Most Valuable Player in the 2001 and 2003 championship series, becoming the first person to win the MVP awards in both the NCAA and the WNBA championships. She has also played on teams that won the National Women's Basketball League (NWBL) championship, the gold medal at the Olympic Games, and the 2010 EuroCup Championship. In 2019, Riley was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

In March 2016, Riley participated in Mogul's IAmAMogul campaign for inspiring women to believe that they have the "power to shape the world through their voices and actions."[1][2] She was the general manager for the San Antonio Stars from May 2016 until the team's sale and relocation to Las Vegas in the 2017–18 off-season. In 2022, she joined the Miami Heat front office as the Senior Director of Team Development.[3]

Early years

Riley was born in Ransom, Kansas and grew up in Macy, Indiana. She has always been tall, measuring 25 inches (63.50 cm) at birth, and six feet (1.83 m) by the time she was 12 years old.[4] While attending North Miami Middle/High School outside Denver, Indiana, she was on the basketball, volleyball and track teams. It was in high school that she began her practice of wearing a headband while playing. During her four years at high school she scored 1,372 points, acquired 1,011 rebounds and blocked 427 shots.[5] She averaged 26 points a game as a senior, and had her jersey number (25) retired by the high school.[6]

College years

In her freshman year at Notre Dame, Riley played in all 32 of the team's games, starting in the final 26. Thereafter she was the starting center in all but one of Notre Dame's games. She was a mainstay of the team in all four years, and consistently ranked high in the nation among women basketball players in field goal percentage and blocked shots. In both her junior and senior years she was an Associated Press First Team All-American selection. As a senior, she won the Naismith Award and was the Associated Press Player of the Year. In addition, she was the 2000-01 Verizon Academic All-American of the Year for the University Division I.

The highlight of her college career came in the 2001 NCAA tournament. In the championship game, Notre Dame was trailing Purdue, 66–64, when Riley scored the tying field goal. Then, with 5.8 seconds left and the score still tied, Riley drew a foul. She made both free throws to give Notre Dame its final 68–66 edge and its first women's national championship.[7] Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, when asked about the critical play on which Riley was fouled, said, "it's the same play we've been running all season. It's called: 'Get the ball to Ruth.'"[8] Riley was the Most Outstanding Player of that year's Final Four. The only player in Notre Dame women's basketball history to score 2,000 career points and grab 1,000 career rebounds, Riley was a two-time first-team Academic All-American in both 2000 and '01. In 1999, Riley led the nation in field goal percentage shooting 68.3% to become the first Irish player to rank first in an NCAA statistical category.[9]

Riley graduated from Notre Dame in 2001 with a degree in psychology, having made the Dean's List every semester. She finished her Notre Dame career with 2,072 points, and school records for rebounds (1,007), blocked shots (370), and field goal percentage (.632).


Notre Dame statistics


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Year Team GP Points FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1997-98 Notre Dame 32 368 60.0% 0.0% 74.8% 7.3 0.7 0.8 2.2 11.5
1998-99 Notre Dame 31 514 68.3% 0.0% 69.0% 8.4 1.3 0.8 3.3 16.6
1999-00 Notre Dame 32 518 61.5% 0.0% 80.5% 7.3 1.3 0.5 2.7 16.2
2000-01 Notre Dame 36 672 62.8% 0.0% 76.8% 7.8 1.9 0.6 3.1 18.7
Career  131 2072 63.2% 0.0% 75.4% 7.7 1.3 0.7 2.8 15.8


Bachelor of Arts - Psychology - Magna Cum Laude - University of Notre Dame (2001)

Executive MBA –Magna Cum Laude - University of Notre Dame (2016)

Professional career


On April 20, 2001, Riley was selected by the Miami Sol as the fifth overall pick in the 2001 WNBA draft. She came off the bench for the first 12 games. On July 1, she made her first professional start, on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks, and started for the rest of the season.

Her second season (2002) was a difficult one. After playing well in the preseason, she broke a finger the day before the regular season started. She could not play for the Sol's first several games – the first time in her career she had missed a game because of an injury. She returned, playing with a splint on her hand, but lost her starting spot. During the WNBA's off-season, she played in Valencia, Spain.

After Riley's second season with the Sol, that franchise folded. On April 25, 2003 the WNBA held a special one-round dispersal draft, in which the remaining WNBA teams could select players from the Sol and from the Portland Fire, which had also folded. The Detroit Shock, by virtue of having the worst regular-season record in the WNBA in 2002, received the first pick in the dispersal draft, and used it to select Riley.[15]

In Riley's first season with the Shock (2003), she was a key member of the team. She bettered each of her previous WNBA season totals in points, rebounds, blocked shots, and assists. The Shock, in a notable turnaround, went from a 2002 season with the worst record in the league (9-23) to a 2003 season with the best record (25-9) and a victory in the WNBA Championship. In the finals, the Shock defeated the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks to win Detroit's first WNBA title. Riley was named the MVP of the WNBA finals.

Riley continued to play for the Shock in the 2004, 2005, and 2006 seasons. In 2005, she was selected for the Eastern Conference team in the WNBA All-Star Game. In 2006, she was the starting center when the Shock won its second WNBA championship, defeating the Sacramento Monarchs.

In February 2007, she was traded to the San Antonio Silver Stars in exchange for Katie Feenstra. The Shock also received the right to exchange first-round draft picks with the Silver Stars in 2008. The Chicago Sky signed the veteran 6-foot-5 center and two-time WNBA champion Riley, the team announced on Monday February sixth 2012.[16]

Riley was waived by Chicago on 5/23/13.

On June 18, 2013, Riley signed with Atlanta after a roster spot opened up when Sancho Lyttle was suspended following her departure to play six games for her national team.[17]


The WNBA off-season was when the National Women's Basketball League operated. It provided a showcase for players hoping to make a WNBA team, and also attracted established WNBA players. In the fall of 2003, Riley joined the Colorado Chill of the NWBL. On April 1, 2005, in her second season, the Chill won the NWBL championship.

In Riley's third season with the Chill, she broke her thumb in a preseason workout and missed the team's first 14 games. She returned to action on March 21, 2006.[18] She played in the last four regular-season games, all of which the Chill won to finish tied for the regular-season championship.[19] In the playoffs, the Chill won both its games to repeat as NWBL champions.[20] Riley was named as the playoff MVP.[21]

Spanish League

After the WNBA's 2005 season, Riley played for Yaya Maria Porta XI in the 2005–06 season of the Spanish League. In January 2009 she signed for Rivasecópolis, and played again in the Spanish League.

Polish League

Riley played the 2006-07 European season for Lotos Gdynia in the Polish League. This club was long the European home for fellow WNBA player Margo Dydek, and also at one time featured another American WNBA star in Katie Smith.

Greek league

In January 2010, the Athinaikos club in the Greek league announced that Riley would join it for the remainder of its season. She replaced LaToya Davis, who broke her wrist. In April 2010, Riley helped Athinaikos to win their first EuroCup Women's Basketball Title.[22]

International competition

While in college, Riley played on the U.S. team in the 1999 World University Games in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The team won the silver medal.

In 2002, she practiced with the USA Women's Senior National Team, but did not make the final cut to play in the Basketball World Championship.

In 2004, she again practiced with the USA Women's Senior National Team and played in several of its games. She was selected for the 2004 U.S. Women's Olympic Team. In Olympic play, the team was undefeated and won the gold medal.

Community and global outreach

Nothing But Nets

Ruth Riley supports a number charitable organizations. Since its inception in December 2006, Riley has been a spokesperson of the UN Foundation's Nothing But Nets, a global campaign that saves lives through the strategic prevention of Malaria. Through her work with the Nothing But Nets campaign, Riley has made multiple trips to different regions in Africa helping to amplify awareness of the malaria disease. In August 2008, Ruth helped raise money for Nothing But Nets during a San Antonio Silver Stars 5k run/walk. As a result of her efforts, Riley won August's WNBA Community Assist Award in 2008.

"No Kid Hungry"

Riley was introduce to Share Our Strength at the NBA All-Star Jam Session. Share Our Strength is a national nonprofit committed to ending childhood hunger in America by making sure that children in need are enrolled in federal programs. It invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger on a national and state level. Riley, stopped by the booth to take the No Kid Hungry pledge and found out that they were launching an Illinois Initiative that March. She offered to help in any way she could and was subsequently asked to speak at their at the official launch. In the summer of 2012, Ruth, along with the NBA/WNBA joined with Share Our Strength to connect more than 50,000 youth to free meals in the summer across the United States.

Other activities

Riley at the ribbon cutting for four donated basketball courts in Angola

Riley wrote a children's book, The Spirit of Basketball, with co-author Paul Hickey and illustrator Christopher Hiller, that was published in 2005. According to Riley, the message of the book was "that basketball is the same no matter where you live or what language you speak".[23]

On January 26, 2005, Riley made her debut as a color commentator for a Notre Dame women's basketball game.

As of 2005, Riley was the vice president of the WNBA Players' Union.

In 2009, President George W. Bush appointed Riley to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.[24]

In 2015, Riley was awarded the Moose Krause Distinguished Service Award by the Notre Dame Monogram Club.

In 2018 she became one of the broadcast analysts for the Miami Heat of the NBA, the first woman in that role for the Heat.[25] She is not related to Pat Riley, the president of the Heat.[25]


Riley's height is variously listed as 6' 4" and 6' 5". She has said that she is "six-foot-four and a half to be exact" (1.94 m).[26]

In 2001, while playing for the Sol, Riley bought a home in South Beach, and returned to the area in the offseason even when playing for other organizations.[27]

Riley married Benjamin Hunter, another Notre Dame alum and varsity football player on New Year's Day 2018.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "You'll Never Guess Which Celebs Want You To Be A Mogul". Mogul. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  2. ^ "#IAmAMogul Because Sports Are A Powerful Platform To Build Girls' Confidence. By Ruth Riley". Mogul. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  3. ^ Chiang, Anthony (August 15, 2022). "Ruth Hunter moving into full-time role in Heat basketball operations, leaving broadcasting". Miami Herald.
  4. ^ Goldberg p 31
  5. ^ Goldberg p 31–32
  6. ^ Goldberg p 32
  7. ^ "Riley leads Notre Dame in biggest game of her career". CNN. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  8. ^ "Notre Dame edges Purdue for top title". Archived from the original on 2005-09-04. Retrieved 2005-09-01.
  9. ^ "Ruth Riley Bio :: Notre Dame Women's Basketball :: UND.COM :: The Official Site of Notre Dame Athletics". Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  10. ^ "Legends". Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  11. ^ "Ruth Riley Selected as One of 2014 Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons Of The World". Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  12. ^ "SKY: Riley Inducted to Academic All-America Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  13. ^ Notre Dame's Basketball Ring of Honor Inductee in 2010 ruth riley
  14. ^ "NCAA Statistics". Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  15. ^ " Draft 2003". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  16. ^ "Detroit Free Press - Home". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  17. ^ "DREAM: Atlanta Dream Signs Former All-Star Center Ruth Riley". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Associated Press (January 25, 2010). "WNBA center Riley to play for Greece's Athinaikos". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  23. ^ "SHOCK: Shock Center Ruth Riley Pens Children's Book". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  24. ^ "Mukasey, Elliott Abrams Get Last-minute Bush Appointments".
  25. ^ a b Winderman, Ira (October 2, 2018). "Ruth Riley Hunter back home with Heat as she begins broadcast role". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2020-02-29.
  26. ^ "Colorado Chill of the NWBL". 2006-05-10. Archived from the original on May 10, 2006. Retrieved 2016-05-16.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ "Q&A With Ruth Riley Hunter, Miami Heat's Newest TV Studio and Radio Analyst". WNBA. October 4, 2018. Retrieved 2020-02-29.