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?
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.
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.