July 27 (UPI) -- Brooklyn Nets star guard Kyrie Irving is committing $1.5 million to supplement the income of WNBA players who opted out of the season either because of coronavirus concerns or social justice issues.
The funds will come from Irving's KAI Empowerment Initiative, which was launched Monday. It also will provide all WNBA players access to a financial literacy program created by UBS.
With the help of players such as Natasha Cloud -- who chose to sit out this season to fight social injustices -- and Jewell Loyd, Irving connected with multiple WNBA players and discussed challenges they faced in deciding whether to play this year. Those conversations led him to help with the financial burden in a league where the top annual salary is a little more than $200,000.
"With the help of Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd, I have connected with several WNBA players who have decided to play and those who have decided not to play. In these conversations, I have learned about the challenges and opportunities of their decisions and how it will impact their lives, family, and overall well-being," Irving said in a statement.
"This platform was created to provide support for all WNBA players in hopes to relieve some of the financial strain imposed during these challenging times. Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions."
Players must provide insight into the circumstances surrounding their decision to skip the season and not be receiving financial support from any other entity to be considered eligible. An opt-out for medical reasons must be connected to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Irving, who has been vocal about social justice issues, won't play for the remainder of this season as he recovers from shoulder surgery. The NBA restarts its season this week in Orlando, Fla., while the WNBA began Saturday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.