January 18, 1985
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
Drafted: 17th overall in 2007 by the San Antonio Silver Stars
•Seattle Storm (2008-Present)
•Atlanta Dream (2008)
•San Antonio Silver Stars (2007)
•2010 WNBA Champion with the Seattle Storm
•2007 WNBA All-Rookie Team
•Four-time All-ACC selection and two Final Four appearances while at North Carolina
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
I grew up in the heart of basketball country—Winston-Salem, North Carolina—with my dad, Robert; my mom, Elaine; and my older sister, Brandii.
My dad worked at the local recreation center, and that’s where I fell in love with basketball. I’d play all day, every day, always shooting and dribbling. When I didn’t have a basketball, a sock tossed into the hamper or trash into a can had to suffice. I played against boys at the rec center, which toughened me up and forced me to improve. I’d play until nobody wanted to play anymore, and then I’d do it all over again the next day.
Basketball was my life, but my mom made sure it never interfered with us going to church. We were there every Sunday—whether I wanted to be or not—Brandii and I singing in the choir. I may not have liked going at the time, but I realize now how it helped lay a foundation of faith for me to build upon throughout my life.
In high school, basketball took up most of my time. My schedule was filled with team practices every day or AAU practices and tournaments all over the state. I made a lot of sacrifices and missed out on a lot of things my friends were doing, but basketball kept me around people who had similar focus and determination.
I had been a University of North Carolina fan all my life, so it was a dream come true when I signed a letter of intent in 2003 to become a Tar Heel and play for coach Sylvia Hatchell. I’ll always remember my four years at Chapel Hill, making it to two Final Fours and growing so much as a young woman. Coach Hatchell taught all of us morals, values and life lessons that went beyond the game. I am a better person today because of my time playing for her.
My success at UNC opened the door for an even bigger dream: I was drafted into the WNBA by the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2007. I played there for a year before I was traded to Atlanta, and about a month into the 2008 season I was traded to the Seattle Storm, where I’ve been since.
Playing in the WNBA has allowed me the opportunity to be around fellow believers who are great examples of strong Christian women. I gave my life to Christ a long time ago back in high school, but my teammates along the way have helped and encouraged me to truly live out that commitment.
Before the 2010 season, teammates Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright, Ashley Robinson and I committed to meeting and praying for one another and our team on a consistent basis. We poured ourselves into God that summer, and He of course did the same for us. That commitment showed on the court as we marched through the regular season and playoffs and won the WNBA championship. I truly believe we were so successful because we were disciplined in our walks with God.
That season was very special to us, but now it is a perfect example of how accomplishments in this life will fade. That was four years ago, and while we still have the memories of all the fun and happiness, when the next season began we weren’t champions anymore.
Not so with my faith in God, where He makes everything new on a daily basis. God wakes me up every morning and gives me a fresh anointing. I believe He has a purpose and plan for each of us, and right now His plan is for me to grow in my relationship with Him and with others. I learned from the veteran players when I joined the league, and now I’m here as an ex-ample to the younger players.
I hope people see my passion for the game and, more importantly, I hope they see some-thing special in me: God’s light shining as I play and represent Him on the court. It’s not about the talent I have but about the gifts God has given me to use for His glory. Basketball accomplishments are great, but they can’t compare to my relationship with God. He’s going to do bigger things in my life than just what happens on the court.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images/NBAE and Neil Enns/Storm Photos
--This article appears in the September/October 2014 issue of FCA Magazine. To view the issue in its entirety digitally, click here: Sept/Oct 2014 Digital
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