"There are a lot of young girls out there who look up to Lisa Leslie. I think it’s great that they can look at Lisa and say we don’t have to make sacrifices." —Sheryl Swoopes, Houston Comets and U.S. Olympic Team
"Lisa is doing for women what Michael Jordan has done for young men." —Michael Cooper, Lakers great and L.A. Sparks head coach
"She has it all: beauty, brains, and athleticism. She brings class, fashion, and she’s sassy in her own way. She has all that and the championship rings to back it up." —Nancy Lieberman, ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer
"Lisa Leslie is absolutely one of the best players ever to play the game. She is a leader who works hard, plays hard, and carries herself with incredible poise, grace and dignity. She is an icon and a perfect role model." —Bill Walton, ESPN commentator and NBA Hall of Famer
A three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time MVP of the WNBA, and the first woman ever to dunk in a professional basketball game, Lisa Leslie is considered one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball. Now in her own words, she points the spotlight onto her remarkable life off the court, where being a confident champion was not always simple.
As a child growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Lisa was timid, awkward, and over six feet tall in the sixth grade. Opponents challenged her, and she struggled to overcome self-imposed fears and limitations. But as her interest in basketball grew, she toughened both her game and her resolve. She also learned she could retain her femininity and throw a few elbows too.
Still there was a nagging notion that girls—even tall girls and especially pretty ones – could not play well. At the same time, Lisa’s home life, though loving, was unstable. Lisa never knew her father. Her mother worked as a traveling truck-driver to support the family, leaving Lisa to shuffle between relatives. Lisa’s beloved older sister seemed only to torment her, harbor hidden jealousies, and would later go on to steal her identity and almost ruin her finances. And as a young woman, it would take two broken engagements before Lisa finally found the love of her life.
Yet overcoming tremendous doubts are what paved the way to Lisa’s greatest achievements—scoring 101 points in the first half of a high school basketball game; signing with Wilhelmina Models and appearing in Vogue magazine; and of course traveling the world and winning championship after championship…after championship.
Today, Lisa is a beautiful, poised, assertive, six-foot-five-inch basketball powerhouse. Her elegance and charm have made her a favorite with fans, the fashion world, and even Hollywood. With hard-won candor and self-assurance, Lisa Leslie shares her empowering story about finding grace under pressure, balancing a life of contradiction without losing yourself, and exceeding expectations—including your own—by playing like a girl.
Larry Burnett is an Emmy award-winning journalist and sports broadcaster. He has known Lisa for fifteen years and has been the radio and television play-by-play announcer for her L.A. Sparks’ games for the past nine seasons. Burnett has anchored Sports Center and The NBA Today Show for ESPN, and he has hosted the Lakers’ radio broadcasts and The Phil Jackson Show.