Lisa Leslie: WNBA Legend, 100 Influential Black Women in Sport

Illustrated sports and Empower Onyx spotlight the diverse journeys of black women through sports – from veteran athletes to rising stars, coaches, executives and more – in the series, Elle-evate: 100 influential black women in sports.


When Lisa Leslie was a 6ft tall sixth grader growing up in Compton, Calif., She struggled to understand why everyone thought she was playing basketball just because of her height. The following year, Leslie decided she wanted to be more than the big school girl – and she wanted to be more popular – so she followed in the footsteps of a well-known classmate who was part of the team and decided to play for real.

Leslie quickly discovered that she was the only left-handed player in training. In an effort to catch up with her teammates, she changed and trained with her right hand, just so she didn’t have to do the exercises on her own. This decision would impact the rest of her life and put her on the path of one of the few ambidextrous players in the WNBA, ending confidently with either hand.

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