One thing you need to know about Chiney Ogwumike: She is a champion of spirit—the queen of making lemonade out of lemons. She chews adversity like gum.
This spring, she made headlines for using her time away from the court—she was rehabbing an injured Achilles—to earn a spot as one of the youngest broadcast journalists in the history of ESPN. These types of positions are typically reserved for an athlete's post-playing days. But not for Chiney. Each time injury has kept her off the court, she has found a way to repurpose the experience as an opportunity. It is as if she wakes up every single morning clapping and yelling "LET'S GO!"
I love bold women, and Chiney has a fire about her. I've known her for many years and consider her a little sister. The love is real. I met her back in college at Stanford University while playing on the basketball team with her big sister, Nneka, now a WNBA champion and MVP. Whereas Nneka is cool, calm and motherly, Chiney is fiery, bold and bright-eyed. That Chiney—after starring at Stanford, where she rewrote the Pac-12 women's basketball record books—followed in Nneka's footsteps by becoming the No. 1 pick of the WNBA draft is unsurprising.
Both have found success in the strength of their beautiful Nigerian family. I've seen firsthand the support, graciousness and love of the Ogwumikes. While Chiney was in college, Ify, the family matriarch, and her husband, Peter, were conspicuously present; they attended the majority of the games in person. Like many Nigerian parents I know, they taught their daughters to strive for excellence in academics and athletics. But they also stressed the importance of what it meant to be leaders. This has, in turn, filtered down to Chiney's younger sisters, too. Olivia and Erica, who play at Rice University, share an enthusiasm and positivity that has become a hallmark of the family name. Her family is impressive, which is why it is unsurprising that Chiney is so determined.
Never mind that she is doing all this in spite of the limitations that society has placed upon her: "Too young, too female, too black, too African." WHATEVER! Chiney is too busy being a multifaceted force to worry about what others think, OKAY?! *Flips hair*
She has led her Connecticut Sun to a blistering start in the Eastern Conference. She's also demonstrated why she is a burgeoning broadcasting star. She recently juggled playing the WNBA season and providing analysis for the NBA playoffs at the same damn time.
But Chiney's reach extends beyond what you see on TV. She is international, too. She often goes home to Nigeria and other parts of Africa to do community work, such as improving facilities and sports infrastructure, and working to promote education and empower young women.
She represents for her people: Nigerian, Stanford nerd, WNBA All-Star, Adidas ambassador, ESPN analyst, sister, daughter, WOMAN!
Her boss moves are just beginning, y'all. Enjoy the show and cheer this young queen on!
Ros Gold-Onwude serves as a Turner Sports reporter covering the NBA for select regular season and playoff games across NBA TV, NBA.com and TNT.
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