Candace Parker Comes Home

I’m an avid reader, and my favorite book is Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf. He talks about focusing on the readiness and relinquishing the results. And I ’ meter one of those people who, if I had a prospect to be the hero and take the last shot but an 80 percentage probability of missing it, I would take the shoot. So I ’ megabyte choosing to come home to Chicago regardless of what the result is. I want to end my career where I started it, and whatever happens in between is out of my control .
The second-best job to playing basketball is talking about it. I pride myself on knowing the game, the history of it, and the players. I think my authentic love of it shines through in my broadcasts. And I ’ ve constantly respected the men I grew up watch, who have respected me in return. The issues come from guys who weren ’ triiodothyronine able to play basketball past their center school or gamey school days. person who didn ’ triiodothyronine play is qualified to talk about it, but I can ’ thyroxine because I was born a charwoman ? In my mid-20s, there was a switch that flipped when I stopped concerning myself with why they were acting this way. I ’ thousand not person who wants to be coddled, and I ’ m not going to coddle the men I ’ megabyte around — or not try my best because it would hurt their self. That ’ second precisely not the way I was raised .
Parker at age 4 with her father, Larry, brothers, Anthony and Marcus, mother, Sara, and grandmother Shirley Photograph courtesy of Parker family
I grew up in a household where we were humbled. We realized that you can ’ thymine take yourself excessively seriously. You ’ ve never got everything figured out. You make mistakes and admit them. You laugh. You joke. On a Saturday dawn, if my oldest brother, Anthony, had shot ill in a game the night before, my dad would get up and start looking about in a kitchen cabinet. We knew not to ask. But if we had a ally over, they would be like, “ Hey, Mr. Parker, what are you doing ? ” “ Looking for Anthony ’ s startle shot. ” And when I was named one of People magazine ’ s most beautiful people during college, my brothers sent me hilarious photos of me : “ Should we show People these ? ” so I have people who will bring me right back down to world.

My dad was tough on me across the board. In one-sixth grade, the workload got to be therefore much that I told him, “ This international relations and security network ’ t what I ’ thousand cut out for. ” My brother Marcus is brilliant. He ’ s a doctor and scored like 34 on his ACT. I was like, “ I don ’ metric ton know if I ’ megabyte gon na be able to do it like him. ” And my dad made me stay up and redo my homework until it was perfective. He said, “ now you ’ ve set the bar. It ’ s up to you to hold yourself to it. ”
Leading Naperville Central to the Class AA state title in 2004 for the second year in a row. photograph by Chicago Tribune It’s important to show up. It shows people that you care. At one point, my parents had a sophomore in college, a junior in high school, and my YMCA basketball games. so on Saturdays they ’ five hundred go to my 8 ante meridiem games, then Marcus ’ s noon game, then we ’ d all drive to Peoria to go to Anthony ’ s 7 post meridiem plot for Bradley University. We weren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate allowed to not attend. We supported each other. And I ’ meter trying to carry that forward with my child .
Before my freshman season at Tennessee, I had a scope procedure on my knee. I woke up in the hospital. My parents and my coach, Pat Summitt, were there, and we were joking, because I guess I ’ five hundred been telling them through the anesthesia, “ We won. ” They ’ re like, “ What did you win ? ” So I ’ megabyte feed into it and laughing. then I saw the repair ’ south face, and everybody kind of stopped laughing. I remember my parents and Pat saying, “ We should tell her, ” and the doctor of the church saying, “ No, we have to wait until she wakes up fully. ” I said, “ No, I ’ thousand alert. Tell me. ” Pat and my dad kind of grabbed me, and I knew it was bad. They said I needed an extra surgery that was season-ending. back at our hotel, I remember being actually upset, like, Why does this have to happen to me ? I had just come off ACL operating room the year before. After an hour of me screaming and yell, my dad took me into the bathroom and made me look at myself in the mirror. He was like, “ OK, you ’ ve had your compassion party. immediately what are you going to do about it ? You need to promise yourself that you ’ re going to overcome this. ” And that truly stuck with me, because as a rear it would have been comfortable to barely say, “ I ’ ll make everything fine. ” But he made me take responsibility for myself .
Not being able to play that season was a huge blow, because playing is something I would constantly do whenever something was faulty. I was besides going through the conversion of moving to college, and my parents were getting a divorce. But I was one of those kids who tried to act like everything was fine and deal with stuff by myself. Pat noticed what was going on and made me go see a sports psychiatrist — who I wouldn ’ t talk to. I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know how it would help me. And therefore I would go to the sessions and we would fair sit there. I would do my time. Pat got fart of this and was like, “ rather of doing that, why don ’ t you come by my office at lunch every Wednesday. You can do your homework, but just sit in my office. ” The beginning two times, we merely kind of baby-sit there and talked. By the third session, it was like therapy for me. We talked about liveliness and how we dealt with stuff. She was the matchless who truly helped me through everything. And she was ahead of her prison term in terms of advice. She ’ d say, “ I ’ thousand going to tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear. ” A draw of times we gravitate towards comfort and wear ’ t want to solve the underlying problem. A idiom that has echoed in my ear from different coaches and mentors is “ Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. ” People who can live in that quad in truth have an advantage .
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When I was 18 or 19 years old, I was dating Dwight Howard. He was going straight to the NBA, and everybody was talking about him. I was hung up on the fact that, dang, I ’ meter skilled, I ’ meter pretty full at what I do, but this guy ’ sulfur set for biography on his first contract, and I ’ thousand not. then when I got out of college, I realized the limitations that were put on women in general, not good in sports. And that was difficult, because cipher had always called me autocratic, cipher had spoken of my confidence, cipher had said that I couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate do mathematics. And I started realizing the earth wasn ’ t what I thought it was. But I wasn ’ triiodothyronine gon na let it change me .
Having Lailaa at 23 years old really made me grow up and try to be a better person. I was taken aback by people ’ s initial reaction when I announced I was fraught. It was like, “ How could you do this to us ? You ’ re not going to be the same. ” But if you tell me I can ’ t do something, I ’ megabyte going to do it. So I had everything scheduled. I worked out during my hale pregnancy, and I worked out again two weeks after I had my daughter. Two weeks after that, I was on the court. And six weeks after that, I was playing in a bet on. I was nursing and Lailaa was merely along for the ride .
Your kids are constantly watching you. I remember crying after a game. We ’ vitamin d lost in the westerly Conference finals, and I was actually disturb. There ’ second a picture of Lailaa coming onto the court and hugging me. Fast-forward a match of months. We were at my buddy ’ mho house, visiting her cousins, and they were playing a board plot. I went in the board because I heard some shout. Lailaa was in the corner, crying. So I walked over to her and said, “ What happened ? ” “ I lost. ” And I said, “ We don ’ t cry when we lose. ” She ’ s like, “ But you did. ”
I was married to Shel for eight years after I had Lailaa. It ’ s difficult to balance. You have this love for the game, and it takes you sol many different places. And there ’ s a emergence divisor : sometimes you grow apart. You don ’ thymine know your genuine self even, and you ’ re trying to get to know person else a well. It ’ s like rolling the cube, because you ’ rhenium kind of betting on who the other person is going to be. Going through the divorce, with TMZ reporting stuff and so many people knowing what was going on, was difficult for me. We had to have conversations with Lailaa about how sometimes things that are personal get out. But I can honestly say we do an perplex subcontract coparenting. Lailaa absolutely loves her dad, who ’ randomness super supportive. So it ’ mho been as easy a transition as you can have. There are ups and downs — I ’ m not in any way saying there aren ’ metric ton — but we ’ ve landed on two feet and we ’ re in a good topographic point .
With her daughter, Lailaa, now 12, after a Los Angeles Sparks win in 2019 photograph by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

When I play against my daughter, I’ll let her score maybe once or twice, but she won ’ thyroxine beat me. Everybody is like, “ Candace, let your kid … ” No, absolutely not. That ’ s the biggest problem with sports that they play at this age. They lost five games and she got a trophy ? Like, I ’ m confused how you get a trophy from that .
I talk over everything with Lailaa, like the decision to come to Chicago. We ’ ve traveled the earth together. She grew up in Russia. Her foremost school was in Russia. And it got harder as she got older. The final time we went to China, I remember telling her, “ Hey, baby, Mommy got this great opportunity. But we ’ re a package deal, so I want to talk it over with you. It would be for merely eight weeks. What do you think ? ” And she turned her question, and I saw a tear fall to her buttock, and she turned back around and was like, “ I think we should go. We ’ ll be oklahoma. ”
Confidence comes from preparation. It comes from repeat. It comes from putting in the meter and the hours. And I believe that I belong. I belong on the basketball court. I belong at that TNT desk with Shaq and D-Wade. I was raised in a family where I wasn ’ thymine limited because I was a girl. I didn ’ t have a different curfew. I didn ’ t have to do the dishes and cook while my brothers sat on the couch. No, we all did everything. even when I was the entirely girl playing kickball, I felt as though I should be out there. And I went to a predominantly white school in Naperville, so I don ’ triiodothyronine find uncomfortable walking into a room or sitting at a table with all white people — or all men. When I was in China, I was on a team of all chinese players, and I didn ’ triiodothyronine speak their lyric. But I didn ’ t feel uncomfortable. I don ’ metric ton always think I shouldn ’ thymine be there .
In 2016, when we finally got the WNBA championship, it was so amazing. But I ’ molarity one of those people who remember my losses more. I remember about feel disappointed the day after we won, because the feel wasn ’ t what I thought it would be. Like, I automatically wanted to do it more, get more championships. I had to learn to stop and in truth appreciate moments .
It’s interesting how society judges people based on their accomplishments. I saw an Instagram post that was like, “ Candace won a championship, she knows what it takes. ” We won a championship by one point in crippled 5. Four times, I ’ ve been one nip away, so I could have been a four-time champion or a zero-time champion, but I still have the lapp cognition and the same experiences. If I worried about what people said, it would mean I ’ molarity this close to not knowing what I ’ meter talking about because I don ’ t have the rings to back it up .
A couple of years ago, I was voted the most overrated player in the WNBA. It was a poll by the Athletic. Players voted. I laughed because it ’ randomness about amusing. But honestly, it just gives me more motivation on a random Tuesday to wake up and work extinct. That ’ s what I ’ megabyte taking from it .
Especially now, the knock on me is that “Candace doesn’t always play hard on every single possession.” I think my pain has been mistaken for not working hard, because sometimes my body ’ s not cooperating. If those people knew how much I had to do precisely to get out of bed and onto the woo. I feel like you know your own truth, but still, it eats at me, because indolence is one of those personality traits that in truth bothers me .
I remember one game when Kobe Bryant was 6 for 26 from the field and he came gloomy the court — calm air, cool, and collected — and nailed the game achiever. I texted him the next sidereal day, like, “ How do you have the confidence to do that ? ” And he said, “ I ’ ve arrange in so much time and work and energy that, statistically, the adjacent guess had to go in because I ’ d missed therefore many times. ” I was like, Wow. That ’ s actually shifting the way you think about it. What makes one shot at the end of the crippled more important than the previous 20 you took ? Your mind is the thing that ’ randomness holding you back the most. I ’ ve struggled with release throws occasionally. But it ’ s not the actual free throw that ’ sulfur messing me up — it ’ randomness my brain. So you try to figure out ways to turn that off. One of my family members was like, “ You should sing a song at the free-throw line. ” “ Forever Young ” by Jay-Z is my free-throw line song. It makes me happy, and I started shooting better .
With Kobe Bryant at the 2008 Olympics Photograph courtesy of Parker class ■ Kobe was a mentor, and I actually got to know him well in 2008. We hung out at the Olympics, and I went to a couple of events with him. He was a professional before I was, and I ’ five hundred watched this guy win championships and have that mentality. To have that model and blueprint, specially in L.A., was actually special. He called me before one of my huge playoff games, after we had lost in game 4, and basically said, “ I ’ m not trying to Hoosiers on you, but the basket is the lapp in L.A. as it is in Minnesota. You know what you ’ ve got to do. Go get it done. ”
I was about to take my daughter to a basketball game when I heard about Kobe. It was one of those moments that rock the integral world, when you ’ re always going to remember what you were doing. He truly let us see who he was during his last copulate of years. He let us see the rejoice and the laughter rather of always being dangerous. He was an entire human, not barely a basketball player, and I kind of fell in love with the part of him that was a father who brought his daughter around to different tournaments. And then I think that ’ s what ’ s been so hard to move past. All of us, specially athletes, can see ourselves in him. I still wake up and can ’ thymine believe it. It doesn ’ triiodothyronine seem real .
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I have always been super interested in the history of our country, both good and bad. I remember, when I was new, my dad and I would talk about what I learned in school, and then he would show me lies my teacher told me or things that they don ’ triiodothyronine put in history books. At 13, I was able to go to France to play basketball. And my dad and I spent three or four hours in Les Invalides, a museum that is basically the position of the french on World War II. That was the first gear prison term I saw Americans painted not as heroes in a museum. I besides heard my dad ’ mho stories about going to Joliet West, the come of hate he received. They bused in Black students to desegregate the school, and he was part of that. He played varsity his newcomer year, and one of their first games, people were throwing quarters at them because they were Black. And so it ’ s a matter of being able to see how far we ’ ve occur but besides how army for the liberation of rwanda we have to go. What are our blind spots today ? What aren ’ thyroxine we addressing ? America is built on these principles and fundamental ideas that are big, but we wait until something happens to react .
I was a little bit of a hothead when I was younger. And my talk has gotten me into trouble. I would yell. I got technicals. I have passion and energy and fire, and I may not have constantly whispered to my coaches when I talked to them. But I don ’ thyroxine think wrath should hold you back. It hasn ’ triiodothyronine held me back. sometimes, in your heart, you know something is right, and you merely do it because it ’ s authentic to who you are. The competitiveness with Detroit ’ s Plenette Pierson in 2008 was one of those things where you either face the bully or you end up getting bullied your entire career. There ’ ve been skirmishes since then, but nothing like that. I ’ d even be described as highly emotional, but I ’ ve gotten better. And over the last 10 years, I think the world has adjusted to women being passionate about playing a sport they love .
Styling Jessica Moazami
Hair and makeup Chrisondra Boyd
Photo assistant Aaron Rhodan
Inside shoot location Wintrust Arena

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