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MAKERS Profile

Lisa Leslie

Champion Basketball Player

More From Lisa

In this video

WNBA pioneer Lisa Leslie on how she discovered basketball, became a college superstar, and reached one of her dreams by winning Olympic gold. With the establishment of the WNBA, Leslie was able to go professional as a founding player and eventually--and unprecedentedly--as an owner.

Lisa's Biography

Cause of Choice: Lisa Leslie Basketball & Leadership Academy
Before Basketball: "I jumped double dutch a lot in the streets...and really enjoyed playing kickball and tetherball at school."
Light Bulb Moment: While playing for the first time against other countries she realized "there are people playing in every other country trying to get better than me...I'm always a work in progress. Always trying to get to that next level."
Most Important Piece of Advice: "You can't receive anything with a closed fist, so have an open hand."

In 2002,  Lisa Leslie became the first WNBA player to dunk a basketball. Throughout her trailblazing career, she was many firsts: the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. In 2002, she was the WNBA all-time leading scorer and was named MVP of the WNBA Championship.
 
Leslie grew up in Compton, California raised by a single mother who was an early role model in strength and femininity. Six-foot in sixth grade, people constantly asked Leslie if she played basketball. A self-proclaimed nerd, Leslie finally decided join her junior high team when she realized it could be a plus for her social life, and by eighth grade she had fallen in love with the sport and committed herself to the game.
 
At Morningside High School, Leslie led her team to two state championships and was recruited with a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Southern California where she set several Pac-10 conference records for points and rebounds and was named the 1994 National Player of the Year.
 
In 1996, Leslie made her first Olympic team and brought home gold. She went on to repeat gold medal Olympic wins in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
 
In 1997, Leslie became one of the WNBA's first players, joining the Los Angeles Sparks and leading an impressive career with the team scoring more than 6,200 points during her twelve years with the WNBA. In 2009, she retired but returned to the Sparks in 2011, not as a player, but as an investor and owner.

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