This past year has been unprecedented, full of highs and lows for many in this world. I created this platform to take you inside my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and share my perspectives. To keep it real with everyone that has been on or wants to join this journey with me. So here we go.
Exactly one year ago I was living a dream. Fresh off of working the Celebrity Game at NBA All-Star in Chicago, traveling coast-to-coast every week working for ESPN, and ramping up my training for the upcoming season. And then the world stopped. Ever since I can remember, my life has moved at warp speed. There’s always another workout, another assignment, another goal to achieve. But this pandemic changed everything, for everyone.
As a member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) and as my big sis Nneka was contemplating playing overseas in China, I, along with my family, had been monitoring the situation burgeoning globally. And like many families, we made the decision to quarantine together in Houston. And thus began my new 2020.
The amazing doctors, essential workers, servicemen and women that stepped up and continue to step up each and every day on the frontlines are the real MVPs. They are true heroes. It was a very scary time, but a time that I don’t take for granted. My family had not been able to be together, all of us, since Nneka left for Stanford in 2008. We planned a drive-through birthday for my Mom, my little sister Erica got drafted to the WNBA and prepared for her first year of medical school, my little sister Olivia became our family Tik Tok choreographer and held it down as my hair and make-up guru while killing it in business school, Chef Nnek became our personal DoorDash and we celebrated her 30th bubble birthday, and our Dad became our personal trainer with daily morning walks in the park. I will cherish those memories forever.
We were all snapped back to reality when the video of George Floyd surfaced in May, in the midst of finalizing plans for the 2020 WNBA season. We knew we had incredible challenges ahead, both as a nation and a league. We knew that every time we step on the floor, we would be playing for purpose and for change.
We finally made it to the point when all players had to decide whether or not to participate in the 2020 season. And then I had to make a really, really difficult decision. As many know, I have overcome one of the biggest challenges that an athlete can face on the court. My previous injuries have given me strength and built my character, but unfortunately, they require me to be careful with my preparation leading up to the season. It takes me at least eight weeks to properly train my body to be ready to go, and I was looking at just three weeks. And 22 games in 50 days. I chose to be proactively cautious and put my body first, opting out of the season. I made a commitment then and there that while cheering my team on from afar, I would try my best to help elevate and amplify all the amazing work my teammates and fellow players in the WNBA bubble were doing in real time.
I am so proud of what my sisters in the WNBA accomplished in the bubble, and although it was tough not being there, I did the best I could to leverage every partner I have to shine a light on their incredible work. To try to make an impact without being there. Fast forward to today, and that has become a first-of-its-kind ESPN Films documentary on the 2020 WNBA season.
Soon thereafter, I was presented with an opportunity to be a major part of the new ESPN radio and streaming lineup, co-hosting a daily show with my close friend Mike Golic Jr., who makes me smile and laugh (for all the ladies reading this, he’s single!) every day from 1-4pm PST. Now I get to talk about everything happening in the world of sports as a rising voice of this rapidly changing media landscape.
A lot of people say, especially when it comes to women, that we can’t have it all. But I’m trying to be living proof that we can, or at least, come as close as possible. I want to win a WNBA championship with my sister, and I want to keep pushing boundaries off the court. I’ve been working with LA Sparks Head Coach and General Manager Derek Fisher and my agent Allison Galer to be as flexible as possible so that we can stay true to our mission of building the best Sparks roster right now and for the future. Fish has been super understanding of my broadcast schedule and how we are going to make everything work. And I have an amazing boss at ESPN in Dave Roberts who helps make my dreams come true on-air.
This week, Fish and Allison showed up at my workout and we made it official. I’ve signed a multi-year contract with the Sparks and am so excited to get back on the court with my squad. I have a new workout partner and teammate in Amanda Zahui, and we are full steam ahead getting ready for training camp. I’ve never had this much time in one city to prepare for a WNBA season, and you know I‘m about to take that for what it’s worth.
While I’m truly blessed, I hope people can understand that my jobs are not easy, and balancing it all is surely not easy. For my family and friends reading this, I appreciate all of you for being my support and helping me hold it together. And for never calling me crazy for trying to achieve all of the dreams at the same time.
For the first time in a while, it feels like everything is coming together. It’s just missing one thing…or two according to my Mom. Both, of course, are rings. Lol.