NBA star Kyrie Irving takes 'Little Mountain' name at North Dakota reservation

CANNON BALL, N.D. -- Wearing a traditional Native American shirt, Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was welcomed into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe on Thursday and given the Lakota name Little Mountain.
Wearing a traditional Native American shirt, Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was welcomed into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe on Thursday and given the Lakota name Little Mountain. He was joined by his sister, Asia, and about 1,000 members of the tribe. Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

CANNON BALL, N.D. -- Wearing a traditional Native American shirt, Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was welcomed into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe on Thursday and given the Lakota name Little Mountain.

Joined by his sister, Asia, Irving stood on a buffalo skin as a tribe elder, Vernon Iron Horse, prayed. He followed a variety of traditions before a beaded medallion was placed over his head as he learned his Lakota name. His sister was given the name Buffalo Woman.

"We're welcoming home two of our own," Standing Rock chairman Mike Faith said. "This definitely is history."

The ceremony took place in Cannon Ball.

Elizabeth Larson, Irving's mother, was part of the Standing Rock Sioux at birth but was adopted as a small child. She died when Irving was 4, but on his own, he has learned more about his Native American heritage.

When Irving discussed his lineage in an ESPN interview in 2016, members of the Standing Rock Sioux pieced together his background. They learned his grandparents and great-grandparents were from the White Mountain family of the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota.

He has adopted his heritage. Two years ago, he supported the tribe as it fought the Dakota Access Pipeline. He has made a six-figure donation to the tribe, had its logo tattooed on the back of his neck and released a version of his Nike shoe with the logo.

"Our journeys have been directed in so many different ways, but yet we are still standing here embracing each other as if we haven't lost any time," Irving said. "It's really special for me to be here because I lost my mom at a very young age, and I had no idea about the history and how inclusive this group is and what it means to part of the Sioux tribe."

The naming ceremony had been in the works since April. About 1,000 people attended.