Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

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.

Related Videos

Mae O'Malley
Mae O'Malley
Attorney & Entrepreneur

When San Francisco attorney, Mae O’Malley got pregnant, she realized she needed an innovative alternative that would give her the opportunity to balance work with the needs o...

Dr. Susan Love
Dr. Susan Love
Breast Cancer Pioneer

Educated in Puerto Rico, Mexico City, New York and Boston, Susan Love was already a pioneer when, in 1980, she became the first female General Surgeon on the staff of Boston’...

Jenette Kahn
Jenette Kahn
First Female Comic Book Executive

Kahn served as publisher and then president of DC Comics, where she helped the company grow from 35 people (with three women, including herself) to 250 people with women representi...

Joan Ganz Cooney
Joan Ganz Cooney
Co-Founder, Sesame Workshop

A founder of the Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney knew that educational television was her calling the moment she walked into Channel 13. Born and ...