WATCH: Why Lisa Leslie matters, now more than ever

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PHOENIX – FEBRUARY 13: Lisa Leslie #9 of the Los Angeles Sparks poses for a portrait during the 2009 NBAE Circuit as part of the 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 13, 2009 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER:User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images).

Why Lisa Leslie, Basketball Hall of Famer, matters now, more than ever.

I was 5’6 by age 11. I towered over my peers.  Awkwardly navigating the halls of Green Year Round Elementary School, I found it necessary to seek methods of survival. What better way than to turn on the TV and actively search for someone relatable?

Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

June 21, 1997, the New York Liberty faced the Los Angeles Sparks in the inaugural WNBA matchup. I paid mind to it. I saw women who stood out and towered over everyone. I saw women who controlled their height, played their sport relentlessly-at the highest level-and fought until the last second. I saw women with ponytails swinging and lipstick to match, but still managed to block a shot with no fear. I saw a 6’5 Lisa Leslie.

Ironically, in the summer of my peak-awkwardness, on July 30, 2002, Lisa Leslie dunked. Lisa Leslie dunked, ribbon in hair, on a fast break. I was instantly inspired.

Copyright 2005 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

That year, Leslie secured a second straight WNBA championship with her Sparks team.

18 years, four Olympic gold medals, two championships, three WNBA MVPs later, the Hall of Famer remains a household name. She’s been a model, broadcaster, author and actress. Her latest project is the athlete-laden feature film, Uncle Drew.

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