Lisa Leslie is one of the most-recognized former Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) players. Having brought considerably more than a stunning visage and statuesque body to the court, she was the most dominant player in the women’s game.
She was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She is the first team sport athlete to win four consecutive Olympic gold medals.
In 2001, Leslie was the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. That year, she also led the Los Angeles Sparks to their first WNBA Championship. In 2002, she became the WNBA all-time leading scorer. Leslie led the Sparks to back-to-back championships and she was the first woman to slam-dunk in a professional game.
In August 2011, Leslie became co-owner of the Los Angeles Sparks. She also launched the Lisa Leslie Basketball and Leadership Academy.
Lisa and her husband Michael are parents to Lauren and M.J. As a wife, mom, author, sports analyst, motivational speaker and entrepreneur you can see Lisa Leslie does it all. I had the privilege to catch up with Lisa at Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. We sat down and visited about faith, family and the importance of helping the younger generation.
Lisa Leslie, left, was interviewed by Roman Gabriel III during the recent Super Bowl festivities in New York.
Q: What are you doing here at the Super Bowl?
A: I’m here on behalf of the American Federation for Children, and I hope to bring awareness to parents who should have a choice of what school their kids to attend. The government shouldn’t be choosing what church or school we go to. Now most states are set up so kids go to school based upon the ZIP code they live in. But some of those schools may not be the best in the area. Maybe they’re underfunded or underperforming.
Q: You’re a person who has spent your whole life taking care of your body and mind in becoming a WNBA and Olympic basketball champion. Why is it so important to take care of ourselves physically?
A: I always say that you only get one body so you really need to take care of it. What you put into your body is what you get out. It’s like buying gas, the right kind of fuel for your automobile is critical, and with our bodies if you put the wrong fuel in it, then you can’t perform well on the field, in the classroom, on the court or whatever you may be doing. I think it’s really important that kids get this information early on. I know some kids don’t like vegetables but as parents we have to find vegetables, fruits and other foods our kids enjoy so that they eat correctly. As a new mom I’ve become even more interested in this aspect of helping our kids better perform.
Q: It seems to me that people who live by the basic priorities of faith and family become very successful in life. What’s your story?
A: As a prayerful kid, I was always putting my faith and goals in the Lord’s name. That was always one of the things that helped me the most. I always wanted to fulfill His purpose. I think that’s really been the saving grace for me. When you have faith, you have to step out on it [and trust God].
Q: I hear from many people about a lack of hope or doubt that our young people have today about their future. What do you say to young people today who voice a lack of opportunity because of some past failure or difficult up bringing?
A: I always tell kids that 10 percent of what goes on in life is our past problems. The other 90 percent is how you process it mentally. This is one thing that really separated me from others when I competed in my community. I wrote down the short-term goals and the long-term goals that I had. And by seeing these goals every day on my mirror or on my refrigerator, they constantly reminded me to do the things I was supposed to do like studying my homework or simply going to the gym.
Q: Why are positive role models critical to young people’s success?
A: I think it’s really important for kids to seek out mentors. I’m a big advocate of finding mentors – someone who’s positive in your community. If it’s not a parent or an aunt or an uncle, it may be a teacher or someone in the ministry or in the church you attend. There is someone that can be a shining light in your community and may not be financially rich, but they may be rich in spirit, rich in wisdom and rich in information. You have to be a seeker willing to learn and to find out more about who you want to be.
Q: If parents want more information about school choice, where can they go?
A: Go to Federationforchildren.org to find out more information about the importance of school choice.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roman’s Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. It’s all about faith, family and sports. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook page: Roman Gabriel III Fan Page; connect with him on Twitter: romangabriel3rd; email him: [email protected].)