Inspired by her mother, Louise, who single-handedly raised four children, Sheryl Swoopes’ first basketball memory is “going to nationals with the Little Dribblers team when she was eight years old.” From that point on, Swoopes has continued to leave her mark on the game of women’s professional basketball and women’s athletics, establishing herself as a household name in sport.
The first woman to have her own Nike shoe named after her, Air Swoopes, this 2003 season WNBA’s Defensive Player of the Year has achieved many respected accolades during her career. Many have noted that Swoopes is “one of the best players ever” in the game of women’s basketball.” She was also recognized and awarded an ESPY at the 2000 ESPY Awards Show for “Female Professional Basketball Player of the Year,” and was again nominated for a 2003 ESPY. Swoopes has repeatedly been named to the All-WNBA First Team in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002, and was named to the All WNBA Second Team for 2003. Named as the “2002 WNBA Player of the Year,” Swoopes was also awarded “2003 Defensive Player of the Year”—awards that she also achieved in 2002 and 2000.
As the leading vote getter in WNBA All-Star voting in 2003, 2002, 2000 and 1999, Sheryl has also recorded numerous double-doubles in her career. In 2003, she was also nominated by BET for “Female Athlete of the Year” alongside Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Lisa Leslie. She was named by Ebony magazine as a 2003 Sister in the Spotlight.
A three-time Olympian, outside of her professional career with the WNBA, Swoopes has been received Gold Medals at the1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics. In 2003, she was also a member of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team that played 52 games around the world to prepare for the Olympics. As an integral force in representing the US, Swoopes has participated in the 1994 Goodwill Games, 1999 Winter European Tour and the 2002 World Games.
Sidelined for the 2001-2002 season with a torn ACL injury, Swoopes rebounded in the 2002 season with exemplary play and performance earning the recognition of the WNBA league’s MVP. Those same levels of dedication, commitment, diligence and perseverance are constants that she also exhibits in her endeavors away from the basketball court.
Swoopes has served as an Advisory Board Member for M.A.D.D and is currently on the Advisory Council for Talbots Foundation. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Weakest Link, CNN’s Paula Zahn Show, ESPN as a guest analyst, and was invited by President George W. Bush to join him for the Opening Ceremonies at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
A native of Brownfield (Lubbock), Texas, Swoopes attended Texas Tech University. In January 2004, Sheryl was honorably recognized as one of “Houston’s Living Legends,” and in October of that same year, was inducted, by Gov. Rick Perry (Tx.), into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
Retired American Professional Basketball Player