Cape Town - She’s a 3 x NCAA Champion, 6 x WNBA All-Star, an Olympic Gold Medalist, a mental health advocate – and now also a Laureus sports ambassador.
Chamique Holdsclaw is an American former WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) player who for fans of the game needs little introduction.
At 12, she was the only girl asked to play on the boys' athletic teams and became a three-time All-American at High School in New York City.
She went on to lead Tennessee to three consecutive NCAA championships, becoming the university’s leading male or female, career scorer and rebounder.
She was the first pick of the 1999 WNBA draft, earning the rookie of the year award and a deal with Nike that was then the largest endorsement deal in the league.
By 2013 she averaged 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Over her 11-season career, she was even considered to be a female Michael Jordan.
It was ultimately an Achilles tendon injury in 2011 that saw the close of her pro-career in basketball.
However, even at the height of her career, Holdsclaw was battling an illness she didn’t understand – and in 2012, she finally received a diagnosis - "Bipolar disorder type II".
Being a leader and influencer has always been part of her career and the same became true of her life off the court.
Rather than let her mental disease control her she began dealing intensively with the diagnosis and actively supporting others with similar problems, becoming a speaker and ambassador for mental health. She speaks to, and on behalf of, those who are fighting the same battles she fought, using sports as both a unifying factor and a megaphone. Laureus’ sport for good also believes that sport has the power to change the world and to inspire and unite, which made Chamique a natural fit for her new ambassador role.
The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation supports more than 100 social projects in over 35 countries around the globe to give children and young people a better life.
Laureus and the “Peres Center for Peace” in Israel are supporting and aiding sport facilities, training and programmes that encourage contact and understanding to overcome cultural prejudices between Jewish and Arab children in Israel. Chamique’s role will see her actively encouraging and inspiring young girls, passionate about basketball involved in PeacePlayers.
“Chamique has had an incredible basketball career and is now giving back to society, sharing her own experience at the higher level. It was a natural fit to invite her to visit Laureus Sport for Good activities outside of the US, especially because of the young girls participating in the Laureus Sport for Good Middle East - PeacePlayers International, basketball programme,” said Laureus of Chamique on the project visit to Israel.
She’ll be in great company as an ambassador with 180 current, and carefully selected members as part of the programme.
This group is made up of current and retired sportsmen and sportswomen who have achieved sporting greatness or made significant contributions to the sporting community during their careers.
They are recognised as role models and icons of success and are encouraged to bring their insight and experience to Laureus Sport for Good. Sharing in a belief in the power of sport to break down barriers, bring people together, and improve the lives of young people around the world.