Gabrielle Reece Biography

Activist, Athlete, Model, Activist (1970–)
One of the greatest women's beach volleyball players of all-time, Gabrielle Reece is also a successful model, actress, writer and fitness expert.


Gabrielle Reece was born in California in 1970. Raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida, Reece made a name for herself at Florida State University, where she starred for the school's volleyball team and launched her career as a successful model. She later became one of the leading faces of professional beach volleyball. Reece is married to surfer Laird Hamilton.

Early Years

Gabrielle Allyse Reece was born on January 6, 1970, in La Jolla, California. A single child, she was just 5 years old when her father died unexpectedly in a plane crash. The tragedy left Reece's upbringing in the hands of her mother, Terry Glynn, a writer and ex-dolphin trainer.

Glynn eventually remarried and the new family soon settled in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several years later, Reece and her mom moved St. Petersburg, Florida.

Late to the game of volleyball—she was already in the 11th grade when she first tried the sport—the tall and athletic Reece was a natural on the court and earned an athletic scholarship to Florida State University, where she studied communications.

Quickly, Reece garnered attention not just for her play, but for her stunning looks. In her sophomore year, Elle magazine named the 6'3" blonde beauty on its list of "The Five Most Beautiful Women in the World."

For the rest of her time at FSU, Reece juggled her modeling career, academic responsibilities and life as a college volleyball player. On the court, especially, Reece continued to excel, ultimately setting school records in both career solo blocks and total blocks. In 1989, she was named the Dodge National Athletics Awards' "Most Inspiring Collegiate Athlete," and was named on Rolling Stone magazine's "Wonder Women of the Year" list. Florida State inducted Reece into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

Pro Volleyball Career

In 1992, Gabrielle Reece quit modeling and concentrated her life completely on professional volleyball. Over the next several years, she became the face of women's beach volleyball. The Women's Beach Volleyball League named her "Offensive Player of the Year" in 1994-95, and for four straight seasons (1993-96), she led the league in kills.

Reece went on to steer her four-person team to a title at the 1997 Beach Volleyball Championships. Three years later, she competed at the 1999-2000 Olympic Challenge Series. That same season, she took part in the FIVB Beach Volleyball Tour.

Gabby Reece's success on the court only amplified her celebrity. Nike tapped her to become the first female athlete to design a shoe, and, for six straight years (1993-99), she served as the company's cross-training spokesperson.

Other Ventures

Reece has managed to leverage her sports and modeling careers into many other pursuits. Her fitness products feature a number of DVD workouts, including several geared toward expecting mothers. She's also written regularly about health and fitness for a range of publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post.

Reece's on-screen credits include the films Cloud Nine (2004) and North Shore (2004), the CBS sitcom Garry Unmarried (2008-10), and NBC's The Biggest Loser (2004).

Additionally, Reece has authored two books, the autobiography Big Girl in the Middle (1998) and My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper: A Guide to the Less Than Perfect Life (2013).

Family Life

In November 1997, Gabrielle Reece married professional surfer Laird Hamilton. The couple has two daughters together, Reece Viola Hamilton (born in 2003) and Brody Jo Hamilton (born in 2008).

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