Q+A: Sheryl Swoopes
SLAM sits down with the women’s basketball great.
SLAM: Did you feel any pressure that you were representing women?
SS: Of course. I still feel that way. I take a lot of pride in what I’ve accomplished and for all the woman athletes out there. The thing’s that God blessed me with; I think it’s been my duty and my job to be the most positive presence I can be. I, with the help of my teammates on the ’96 team and fellow WNBA players, opened a lot of doors for female athletes. Being the first woman with the shoe, etc. That was unheard of then.
SLAM: What are your favorite moments from your career?
SS: Being able to have a child. To come back from that and still be significant in the league and be a mother to my son is something I proud of. Also to be apart of the only team to win four championships in a row is really a huge accomplishment in any league.
SLAM: Were you nervous about your pregnancy?
SS: There was so much hype around the WNBA and so much hype around me. Will I be able to come back and be the player everyone was expecting me to be? I had my doubts, I just didn’t know. I took me a year to be back in basketball shape. I just made up my mind to be even better than I was in’96.
SLAM: Do you have one more season in you?
SS: I don’t know. Physically I feel good. I’ve missed three seasons from injuries over the course of my career, which kind of preserved my body. Could I play? Absolutely. Will I? I don’t know.
SLAM: What’s gonna decide that?
SS: I would love to play another year as sort of a retirement season. To be able to go to the WNBA cities and be seen by the fans. I always wanted to retire on my terms. That’s the very appealing upside to me. I want to retire and have people say “Oh my god, why isn’t she going to play another year?” That’s the way my body feels right now.
SLAM: And the downside of one more year?
SS: If I didn’t play it would be because of the different ventures I’m working on. I’m not really as passionate about basketball as I once was. There are other things now that are more important to me.
SLAM: What are those projects?
SS: Playing basketball was the platform to get me where I am now. Because that made me realize what my passion is which is to be a mentor to young girls. I been up and down and up and back down again and to be able to share those experiences, and help them with life issues—that’s important work to me.
I have a foundation. Which is kind of just sitting there, but I now in the process of setting that up to be something geared towards my mentoring goals. I recently in March just set up my own Medical Supply business, MVP medical supply. I wanted to do things that were different and a challenge. I want to give back and help others. I’m working on an athletic apparel line and have a 14-year-old son in high school. So that’s what on plate right now.
SLAM: You’re also one of the first professional athletes to be in an openly gay relationship. How did that experience affect your life?
SS: Everybody deserves happiness and whatever does that for you, then you should be able to live that life. For me, the choices I’ve made I’ve never regretted. When I made the decision to be with a woman, that’s where I was in my life. I made that choice. It’s something I absolutely don’t regret because I learned so much about myself.
That’s something I can help with young people who are going through these issues. For me, right now, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. God has led me here. I’m surrounded by great people who want to see me succeed, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.