Candace Parker

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Candace Parker
Candace Parker 2012.jpg
Parker in 2012.
No. 3 – Los Angeles Sparks
Position Forward
League WNBA
Personal information
Born (1986-04-19) April 19, 1986 (age 28)
St. Louis Missouri
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Listed weight 175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High school Naperville Central
(Naperville, Illinois)
College Tennessee (2005–2008)
WNBA draft 2008 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Sparks
Pro career 2008–present
Career history
2008–present Los Angeles Sparks
2010–present UMMC Ekaterinburg
Career highlights and awards
Stats at

Candace Nicole Parker (born April 19, 1986) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA and UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia. She is the younger sister of former NBA player Anthony Parker. She attended the University of Tennessee in 2004 and was drafted by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2008. She may be best known for being the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and the first woman to dunk twice in a college game—she set both milestones as a redshirt freshman on March 19, 2006. She also became only the second player to dunk in a WNBA game on June 22, 2008.[1][2][3]

A versatile player, she is mainly a forward, but was listed on Tennessee's roster as a forward, center, and guard.[4] She was a starter on the Lady Vols basketball team, winners of the 2007 and 2008 NCAA championships.

Parker won the 2009 Teen Choice Awards as the favorite female athlete in the sports category, and was a guest star on Figure It Out.

Early life[edit]

Candace Parker was born on April 19, 1986 to Natasha and Larry Parker. She has two older brothers: Anthony Parker, who is a former NBA basketball player, and Marcus Parker, who is a doctor.[5]

She grew up in Naperville, Illinois. Her whole family loved basketball, and she began playing at an early age. Her father had played at the University of Iowa in the 1970s. The family were also huge Chicago Bulls fans. Parker was second guessing about playing basketball, fearing she would not live up to the level of play her father and brother demonstrated, so she focused on playing soccer. It wasn't until the eighth grade that her family convinced her to play. Her father would help coach and critique her. Parker said of the experience, "He did things to make me mad, to challenge me, because I was so much more athletic and had so much more knowledge of the game than everyone else that sometimes I just coasted. If me and my dad went to a park and he didn't think I was practicing hard enough, he'd just get in the car and leave. And I'd have to run home. I mean run home. Once I figured that out, I'd always try to go to close-by-parks." [6]

High school career[edit]

Like her older brother Anthony Parker, she attended Naperville Central High School in Naperville, Illinois in 2004. While in high school, Parker led her basketball team to Class AA state titles in 2003 and 2004, and compiled a school-record 2,768 points (22.9 points per game) and 1,592 rebounds (13.2 rebounds per game) while starting 119 of the 121 games in which she played.

She was the only two-time award winner of the USA Today High School Player of the Year, winning the award in 2003 and 2004. Parker also won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award and Gatorade Female Basketball Player of the Year Award in 2003 and 2004. In 2004 she was named Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, WBCA All-American and McDonald's All-American. She participated in the 2004 WCBA All-America Game where she scored 9 points.[7] She was also a consensus pick as player of the year in Illinois in 2002, 2003, and 2004, a four-year member of the All-State first team.

On December 27, 2001, Parker dunked for the first time in competition as a 15-year-old sophomore at Naperville Central High School, believed to be the first slam by a female prepster in Illinois.

On July 11, 2003, Parker tore her ACL in her left knee in a summer league game. On November 11, Parker announced her commitment to Tennessee on ESPNEWS, becoming the first women's player to announce the oral commitment live on ESPNEWS. On December 29, Parker returned to action for Naperville Central and a few months later, led the team to its second consecutive state title.

On March 29, 2004, Parker won the slam dunk contest at McDonald's All-American Game, becoming the first girl to win the event and beating the likes of Josh Smith and J. R. Smith, despite her male counterparts executing dunks with a much higher degree of difficulty.

In August 2004, Parker led the undefeated USA Junior World Championship team to a gold medal with 16.6 ppg and 8.8 rpg. While training, Parker had a relapse of knee pain and was required to undergo surgery both the lateral meniscus and the lateral articular cartilage in her left knee.

College career[edit]

Redshirt Freshman Year[edit]

Parker attended the University of Tennessee in 2004. On February 17, 2005, Tennessee announced Parker would redshirt her first season due to a knee injury. She started for the Tennessee Lady Vols during the 2005-06 season. On March 19, 2006, in an NCAA tournament first round game against Army, she became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game, then became the first woman to dunk twice in an NCAA tournament game.[8]

She was the SEC Rookie of the Year (Coaches and AP) and helped the Lady Vols win the 2006 SEC tournament championship. With 17 seconds remaining in the SEC tournament championship game against LSU, Parker hit the game-winning shot. She was named tournament MVP and was named to the 2006 Kodak All-America team, making her one of the few to ever receive the award as a freshman. However, in the NCAA tournament regional finals against North Carolina, Parker got in early foul trouble and was out of the game for much of the first half, Tennessee ultimately lost the game.

Parker was the only college player named to the USA squad for the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil. The USA squad finished in third place.

Sophomore Year[edit]

On January 28, 2007, in an away game against Alabama, Parker scored her 1,000th career point as a sophomore, making her the fastest player in Lady Vol history to do so. She did it in 56 games, besting Chamique Holdsclaw's mark of 57 games and Tamika Catchings's of 58 games. On March 1, at the SEC tournament in Duluth, Georgia, Parker was named the 2007 SEC Player of the Year. On April 3, she led the Lady Vols to their first national championship victory since 1998, beating Rutgers 59–46, Parker finished the game with 17 points and earned the tournament's Most Outstanding Player honor.

Junior Year[edit]

Parker (left) gets ready for the jump ball

Parker announced on February 21, 2008, that she would forgo her final season of eligibility at Tennessee in order to focus on the 2008 Olympics and pursue a professional career. She graduated with her incoming class in May 2008.[9] A sports management major who had a 3.35 grade-point average as of December 2007, she was named University Division I Academic All-American of the Year in women's basketball for 2008 by the College Sports Information Directors of America.[10]

On April 8, 2008, Parker led the Lady Vols to their second straight NCAA women's title, the eighth championship for Tennessee. She was also named the MOP for the second consecutive tournament, joining Cheryl Miller, Chamique Holdsclaw and Diana Taurasi as the only female players to have done so. She won the honor despite suffering a dislocated shoulder during her team's regional finals win, but returned and led the Lady Vols to the title.

While at Tennessee, she compiled a record of 101 wins and 10 losses and averaged 19.4 points, 8.8 rebounds per game.

Professional career[edit]

2008 Season[edit]

Just after the NCAA victory, Parker was selected as the first pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks on April 9, 2008. She played alongside olympic teammates Lisa Leslie and Delisha Milton-Jones. Shannon Bobbitt (Parker's teammate at Tennessee) joined the Sparks after being drafted in the second round.[11]

On May 17, 2008, in her debut game against the Phoenix Mercury, she recorded 34 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. Her 34 points broke the record for a rookie in a debut game. The record was previously held by Cynthia Cooper, who scored 25 points in her debut game in 1997.[12]

On June 22, 2008, she became the second woman in WNBA history—after her teammate Lisa Leslie—to dunk during a regulation WNBA game against the Indiana Fever. The dunk was on the same basket as the dunk of Lisa Leslie.[13]

Parker was named the Hanns-G 'Go Beyond' Rookie of the Month for the month of May and July 2008.[14]

In August 2008, the WNBA suspended play for a couple of weeks to some of their players to join the national team at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Parker was selected to go, and the US team cruised with 8 straight victories to achieve the gold medal. She averaged 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and scored 14 in the final game.[15]

On October 3, 2008, She became the first WNBA player to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Most Valuable Player awards in the same season, joining Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld as the only professional American basketball players to win both ROY and MVP trophies in the same season.[16]

2009 Season[edit]

Parker missed the first eight games of the 2009 WNBA season after giving birth to daughter, Lailaa Williams. On June 30, Parker returned to practice with her teammates for the first time.[17] She played her first game back from maternity leave on July 5, 2009. Parker was named to the All-WNBA second team and All-Defensive second team despite missing almost a full month. She led the Sparks to the Western Conference Finals but lost in game three to the Phoenix Mercury. In the playoffs, Parker averaged 18 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

2010 Season[edit]

In 2010, Parker missed most of the 2010 WNBA season due to a shoulder injury.

2011 Season[edit]

In 2011, Parker played her first six games. During the seventh game, with 5:56 left in the third quarter, Parker went down after grabbing a defensive rebound and making brief contact with Quanitra Hollingsworth. After getting an MRI on June 27, she found out she had a torn meniscus in her right knee. Six weeks later, she returned and played the remainder of the season.

2012 Season[edit]

In 2012, Parker played the full season and helped her team to a 24-10 record, making the playoffs as the second seed in the west. In the first round, they beat the San Antonio Stars two games to none. In the Western Conference Finals, against the Minnesota Lynx, the Sparks lost two games to none, while Parker scored 33 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and had 4 blocks in a must-win game two, which they lost, 80-79, therefore ending their season. Parker was very emotional following the loss, hugging her mother Sara with tears.

2013 Season[edit]

On July 27, 2013, in her sixth season, Parker played in her first All-Star game. She scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a come from behind win for the West and was named WNBA All-Star MVP. This season, the Sparks finished with the same record (24-10) as a year earlier, again earning the second seed in the Western Conference. On September 19, She was named the 2013 WNBA Most Valuable Player. Parker became the fifth player to earn multiple WNBA MVP awards, joining Lisa Leslie (3), Sheryl Swoopes (3), Lauren Jackson (3) and Cynthia Cooper (2). They faced the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference Semifinals. In game one, at Staples Center, the Sparks lost, forcing them to win in game two, at Phoenix to stay in the series. In game two, Parker scored 31 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sparks to a win, bringing the series back to L.A. for a game three. In a nailbiter, the Sparks lost on a last second jumper by Phoenix rookie Brittney Griner, ending the Sparks' season by one point for the second straight year.

USA Basketball[edit]

Parker was a member of the USA Women's U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The event was held in August 2004, when the USA team defeated Puerto Rico to win the championship. Parker was the leading scorer for the team, averaging 16.6 points per game.[18]

Parker was invited to the USA Basketball Women's National Team training camp in the fall of 2009.[19] The team selected to play for the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics is usually chosen from these participants. At the conclusion of the training camp, the team will travel to Ekaterinburg, Russia, where they compete in the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational.[19]

Parker was one of 21 finalists for the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team Roster. The 20 professional women's basketball players, plus one collegiate player (Brittney Griner), were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee to compete for the final roster which will represent the USA at the 2012 Olympics in London.[20]

Personal life[edit]

On May 7, 2007, People magazine named Parker to its 100 World's Most Beautiful people list.

On November 13, 2008, Parker married her fiancé, Shelden Williams, who was a former college basketball star for Duke University. The couple had a baby girl named Lailaa Nicole Williams on May 13, 2009.

Parker grew up in Chicago adoring the Bulls and was a Michael Jordan fan. Her all-time favorite player is Ron Harper, of whom she has a picture hanging in her bedroom. She has two dogs: a St. Bernard mix named Fendi, with whom she appeared in an anti-fur ad for PETA,[21] and a pug named Nino, who is named after a character in the movie New Jack City. Parker's favorite movies are Love and Basketball and He Got Game. She also likes to listen to Disney soundtracks such as The Little Mermaid and watch Full House and The Cosby Show.[22]

WNBA career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game  RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game  BPG  Blocks per game
 PPG  Points per game  TO  Turnovers per game  FG%  Field-goal percentage  3P%  3-point field-goal percentage  FT%  Free-throw percentage  Bold  Career high League leader

Regular season[edit]



High School[edit]

  • All-State Team (2001-2004: AP, Chicago Sun Times, News-Gazette, Chicago Tribune, IBCA)
  • Gatorade Illinois State Player of the Year (2002-2004)
  • Illinois Miss Basketball (2002-2004)
  • Illinois State Player of the Year (2002-2004: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Daily Herald, Naperville Sun, News-Gazette)
  • First Team All-American (2002-2004: Nike, Parade, Street & Smith's, USA Today, 2004: McDonald's)
  • Gatorade Female Basketball Player of the Year (2003-2004)
  • Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2003-2004)
  • USA Today High School Player of the Year (2003-2004)
  • 2004 Powerade Jam Fest Winner
  • 2004 Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year
  • 2004 Women's Sports Foundation High School Athlete of the Year


  • 2007/08 - Junior
    • 2008 Academic All-America of the Year[10]
    • 2008 Naismith Trophy Winner[32]
    • 2008 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player
    • 2008 John R. Wooden Award winner
    • 2008 Basketball Honda Sports Award Winner
    • 2008 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - Oklahoma City Region Most Outstanding Player
    • 2008 Player of the Year[33]
    • 2007/08 Honda-Broderick Cup winner[34]
    • 2007/08 SEC Female Athlete of the Year[35]
    • 2008 Kodak All-American
    • 2008 SEC Tournament MVP
    • 2008 SEC Tournament First Team
    • 2008 All-SEC First Team
    • 2008 ESPY Best Female College Athlete[36]


  • 2008 WNBA MVP[37]
  • 2008 WNBA Rookie of the Year[37]
  • 2008 All-WNBA First Team
  • 2008 All-Rookie Team
  • 2008 WNBA Rebounding Champion
  • 2008 AP Female Athlete of the Year[38]
  • 2008 BET Female Athlete of the Year
  • 2008 ESPY Best Female Athlete
  • 2009 All-WNBA Second Team
  • 2009 All-Defensive Second Team
  • 2009 WNBA Rebounding Champion
  • 2009 ESPY Best WNBA Player
  • 2009 Teen Choice Award Favorite Female Athlete
  • 2012 All-WNBA First Team
  • 2012 All-Defensive Second Team
  • 2013 WNBA MVP
  • 2013 WNBA All-Star MVP
  • 2013 All-WNBA First Team
  • 2013 ESPY Best WNBA Player
  • 2013 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year Team Sports
  • 2014 All-WNBA First Team

USA Basketball[edit]

  • 2004 FIBA U18 World Championship
  • 2006 FIBA World Champions for Women Bronze Medal
  • 2007 FIBA Americas Championship
  • 2008 Beijing Olympics Gold Medal
  • 2012 London Olympics Gold Medal

UMMC Ekaterinburg[edit]

  • Championship of Russia (2010-2014)
  • Cup of Russia (2010-2014)
  • EuroLeague Women 3rd Place (2010-2012, 2014)
  • EuroLeague Women Champion 2013
  • EuroLeague Women Final Eight MVP 2013


  1. ^ "Parker has opportunity to declare for '07 WNBA draft". Sports Illustrated. March 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-28. 
  2. ^ Gutierrez, Melody (April 2, 2007). "College stars boost WNBA draft suspense". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  3. ^ "Offseason 2008-09: Overseas Roster". January 8, 2009. 
  4. ^ "2006-07 Lady Vols Roster". Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  5. ^ Biography Today. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics. 2010. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7808-1058-7. 
  6. ^ "Biography Today", pp.144-145
  7. ^ "WBCA High School All-America Game Box Scores". Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Retrieved 29 Jun 2014. 
  8. ^ "Biography Today", pp. 146
  9. ^ "Parker to pursue Olympics and pro career" (Press release). University of Tennessee Women's Athletic Department. February 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  10. ^ a b College Sports Information Directors of America (February 26, 2008). "Parker is Academic All-American of the Year". University of Tennessee Women's Athletic Department. Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  11. ^ Jeré Longman, with The AP (April 9, 2008). "Summitt wins again when it matters". Retrieved 2008-04-09. 
  12. ^ Bagnato, Andrew (May 17, 2008). "Parker scores 34, the most ever in a WNBA debut". Google. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-05-17. 
  13. ^ Arritt, Dan (June 23, 2008). "Parker dunks to cap win". The Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ "Parker Named Hanns-G Rookie of the Month". 
  15. ^ "Biography Today", pp.149
  16. ^ "Sparks' Parker wins MVP, rookie of year honors - WNBA - ESPN". October 5, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Parker Returns To Practice". July 3, 2009. 
  18. ^ "FIFTH WOMEN'S JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING TEAM -- 2004". USA Basketball. Retrieved 15 Oct 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "USA Basketball Women's National Team To Tip-Off Training Tomorrow In D.C.". USA Basketball. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  20. ^ "Twenty-One Finalists In The Mix For Final 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team Roster". USA Basketball. February 13, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  21. ^ Reid Chemer, "Candace Parker Stars in New PETA Ad," USAToday, May 14, 2010.
  22. ^ Wojciechowski, Gene. Parker: First-rate game and a first-rate life. December 5, 2007. <>.
  23. ^ "CANDACE PARKER NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK". Retrieved 2007-02-25. 
  24. ^ a b "2007 SEC Women's Basketball Awards Announced". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  25. ^ "Parker, Tennessee thrash Ole Miss to reach Final Four". Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  26. ^ "Paris, Latta head All-America squad". Retrieved 2007-03-29. [dead link]
  27. ^ "Candace Parker named Kodak All-American". Retrieved 2007-03-31. [dead link]
  28. ^ "Candace Parker named John R. Wooden All-American". Retrieved 2007-04-04. [dead link]
  29. ^ "All CP3 All The Time". Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  30. ^ "Parker named to USBWA Player of the Year". Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  31. ^ a b c "CANDACE PARKER NAMED 2006-07 HONDA AWARD WINNER". 2007-04-17. 
  32. ^ "Candace Parker named Naismith Player of the Year". ESPN. July 4, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-04. 
  33. ^ "Parker wins second straight John Wooden Award". Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  34. ^ "Basketball Star Candace Parker Awarded 2008 Honda-Broderick Cup". Business Wire. June 23, 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  35. ^[dead link]
  36. ^ "Parker wins two ESPY Awards; Summitt named top coach". 
  37. ^ a b "Sparks' Parker wins rookie of year, MVP honors" (Press release). 
  38. ^ Parker Named AP Female Athlete of the Year December 23, 2008

External links[edit]