In 2001, Lisa 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. In 2002, she was the WNBA all-time leading scorer and was named MVP of the WNBA Championship. Leslie was a member of the gold-winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. She retired from the WBNA in 2009.
Former professional basketball player Lisa Leslie was born July 7, 1972 in Gardena, California. Standing six feet tall in seventh grade, Leslie hated it when people would ask her if she played basketball. But after reluctantly picking up the sport in middle school, she was hooked. While at Morningside High School in Los Angeles, she led the team to two state championships. In college at the University of Southern California, she set several Pac-10 conference records for points and rebounds.
In her final year at University of Southern California, Leslie was named the 1994 National Player of the Year. She made her first trip to the Olympics in 1996 held in Atlanta, Georgia. There she helped the U.S. team take home the gold medal in women's basketball. That same year, Leslie also launched a modeling career.
Leslie landed a contract with the WNBA in 1997, becoming one of the new league's first players. She joined the Los Angeles Sparks and had an impressive career with the team. In 2001, she was the first WNBA player to win the regular season MVP, the All-Star Game MVP and the playoff MVP in the same season. Leslie also led the Los Angeles Sparks to two back-to-back WNBA Championships—in 2001 and 2002. In addition to her outstanding performance with the Sparks, Leslie returned to Olympic competition three more times. She helped the U.S. team win gold in 2000 and in 2004.
Leslie picked up two more WBNA MVP honors—in 2004 and 2006. She sat out of the 2007 WNBA season because she was pregnant with her first child, but she wasn't away from the courts for long. Leslie returned to the Sparks in 2008. She also earned her fourth and final gold medal in women's basketball that summer at the Olympics in Beijing, China. In 2009, she announced that she was retiring from professional basketball. Leslie scored more than 6,200 points during her twelve years with the WNBA. She also holds the distinction of being the first woman in the league to make a slam-dunk during an official game.
Life After Pro Basketball
In 2009, Leslie added becoming an author to her already long list of accomplishments. She released her autobiography, Don't Let the Lipstick Fool You, before playing her final season with the Sparks. Since her retirement, Leslie has worked as a sports commentator and analyst for such channels as ABC, NBC and Fox Sports Net among others.
Leslie returned to her beloved Sparks team in 2011, but this time as an investor, not a player. She is now one of the team's owners, and has also decided to share her knowledge and skills with others through the Lisa Leslie Basketball & Leadership Academy.
Lisa Leslie is married to Michael Lockwood. The couple has two children, son Michael Joseph and daughter Lauren Jolie.
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