If you follow Kyrie Irving on any of his various social media platforms, you may have seen him use the word “Hélà” frequently, both in his username and to sign off his posts.
Enjoy Life’s Journey, the ups, the hard lessons that come from failure and success, the sacrifices being away from family, and all of the emotions that come with pursuing goals that you’re beyond determined to accomplish.
Patience is a virtue, I gotta stay poised.
— Hélà (@KyrieIrving) January 20, 2023
So, what is the meaning behind the word?
MORE: Lakers, Mavericks among best landing spots for Irving
Kyrie Irving’s Hélà name and Native American ancestry
Irving’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and lived on a reservation prior to being adopted at an early age. She passed away when Irving was just four years old, and he has subsequently explored his connection to the tribe as an adult.
That curiosity led Irving to participate in a naming ceremony in Cannon Ball, N.D., alongside his sister, Asia, in 2018.
He was given the Lakota name Hélà (pronounced HAY’-law), which means “Little Mountain,” in an auditorium filled with more than 1,000 members of the tribe. His sister was given the name Tatanka Winyan (tuh-TONG’-kuh WEE’-yun), which translates to “Buffalo Woman.”
“It’s really special for me to be here because I lost my mom at a very, very young age, and I had no idea… about the history. I had no idea how inclusive this group is and what it means to be part of Standing Rock and be part of the United Sioux Nation,” Irving said during a speech at his naming ceremony.
“This is finally meeting my mom’s family. Now, I’m with you guys forever, and I hope that you don’t mind that because I don’t mind it either.”
Irving has embraced his Native American roots in other ways as well, getting a tattoo of the Standing Rock logo on his neck and asking Nike to put the seal on his shoes. He also donated $110,000 to the tribe’s youth in 2017 and donated food and masks during the pandemic in 2020.
Irving has been using the name Hélà on Twitter since March 4, 2021. He hasn’t stopped since then.