Latasha Nashay Byears (born August 12, 1973 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a former American professional women's basketball player. She played in the WNBA for the Sacramento Monarchs, the Los Angeles Sparks, the Washington Mystics, and the for the Houston Comets. Byears ranked eighth all-time in the WNBA in field goal percentage (.514) and was among the top 10 rebounders in the league's history as of 2003.
Byears grew up in Millington, Tennessee and went to high school in nearby Arlington, Tennessee. Afterwards, Byears played two years in Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, located in Miami, Oklahoma. She later transferred to DePaul University in Chicago, where she averaged 22.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game during the 1995-1996 season, a performance that earned her a first team All-American.
Despite not being selected at the first WNBA Draft, the Sacramento Monarchs invited Byears to their training camp prior to their inaugural season in 1997. Byears then starred for the Monarchs for the next four seasons.
After the 2000 season ended, Byears was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks, where she excelled. However, following a June 5, 2003 Sparks game, Byears and three men unconnected to the Sparks were investigated for an alleged rape of a WNBA player. Byears was cut by the Sparks a few days after the alleged incident. Four months later, in light of Kobe Bryant's rape allegations and how the Los Angeles Lakers, who owned the Sparks at the time, supported Bryant during the controversy, Byears sued the Lakers, accusing the team of double standard. The criminal proceedings were closed in August 2005 due to insufficient evidence, and Byears' lawsuit against the Lakers was settled months later. Shortly after settling the lawsuit, Byears returned to the WNBA after a two-year absence, signing with the Mystics.
In 2007, Byears signed a free agent contract with the Houston Comets. She was briefly waived in 2008, before being re-signed. The Comets organization folded at the end of the 2008 season. Byears, as an unrestricted free agent, was not eligible for selection by another team in the resulting dispersal draft, and was not signed by another team prior to or during the 2009 season.
Byears played for Leszno in Poland during the 2008-09 WNBA off-season.
- Quinn, T. J.; Red, Christian; O'Keeffe, Michael (30 October 2005). "Byears lawsuit outs WNBA conflict on gay issue". Daily News. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
- Offseason 2007-08: Overseas Roster
- Offseason 2008-09: Overseas Roster
- WNBA Player Profile
- USA Today sexual assault article
- ESPN article on her hopes for returning to the WNBA
- ESPN article on her return to the WNBA