Justice Bartley, who just became the first ex-basketball player to join the EcoAthletes Champions roster, knows that leading the #ClimateComeback will be hard work.

That’s just fine with Bartley, as he is very familiar with overcoming obstacles. The 6′ 5″ guard walked on to the highly-ranked University of Virginia basketball team during the 2015-16 season. He persevered over three seasons, doing what he could to help the team. Defying the odds, Bartley finally earned a coveted scholarship from coach Tony Bennett in his junior year.

Justice Bartley celebrating after Virginia won the 2018 ACC Tournament (Photo credit: University of Virginia/Matt Riley)

2016 was also a seminal year for Bartley as far as his interest in climate change is concerned.

“That summer, I took a class about weather and climate,” Bartley recalled. “It was eye-opening and my interest continued to grow throughout the course. From there, I began paying more attention to the beauty nature offers, along with the facts surrounding its degradation. A little more than a year ago, my heart sunk when I saw photos and videos of wildfires energetically blazing across the Amazon.”

After graduating in 2018, Bartley became a graduate assistant at the University of Miami (FL). He, from time-to-time, spoke to his UVa teammates and his players at Miami about the environment and the climate crisis.

Justice Bartley during a timeout as a graduate assistant with the University of Miami (Photo credit: Austin Sapin/University of Miami Photography)

“When I talk about the environment and climate with the guys, I keep it short, real and tailor it all to my personality so it’s not like they’re in a classroom—they get enough of that,” Bartley shared with a smile. “I’ve been grateful enough to be around athletes, both at Uva and ‘The U’ (Miami), who are open-minded and also moved by events that are shaking up our world.”

Bartley, who recently accepted a job with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks in player development, wants to learn how to use his platform to communicate the urgent need for climate action to his fans and former teammates. He sees EcoAthletes as a perfect fit.

“By offering climate communications tools along with the facts on climate, EcoAthletes provides athletes with a much-needed service,” said Bartley. “I do not have all of the solutions to the environmental crises in our environment. That’s why I am on a pursuit to educate myself on climate change and on environmental justice issues. I am glad EcoAthletes will help. I look forward to collaborating with my fellow EcoAthletes Champions so we can confidently take the right steps towards helping our fans take climate action and demand environmental justice. This will make the world a better place.”

EcoAthletes CEO Lew Blaustein looks forward to seeing how Justice Bartley goes about pursuing a #ClimateComeback.

“Justice Bartley is already a powerful communicator,” noted Blaustein. “That fact, plus his passion for the climate fight and his ‘do-what-it’takes’ mentality — which led him to go from walk-on to scholarship player at UVa — will serve him well as an EcoAthletes Champion.”

You can follow Justice Barley on Instagram.

Photo at top: Justice Hartley goes up for a slam dunk for the University of Virginia (Photo credit: University of Virginia/Matt Riley)