Sheryl Swoopes

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Sheryl Swoopes
20140814 Cheryl Swoopes 2.jpg
Swoopes at the 2014 World Basketball Festival
Personal information
Born (1971-03-25) March 25, 1971 (age 44)
Brownfield, Texas
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Listed weight 145 lb (66 kg)
Career information
High school Brownfield (Brownfield, Texas)
WNBA draft 1997 / Allocated
Selected by the Houston Comets
Playing career 1997–2011
Position Guard / Forward
Number 22
Career history
1997–2007 Houston Comets
2008 Seattle Storm
2011 Tulsa Shock
Career highlights and awards

Sheryl Denise Swoopes (born March 25, 1971)[1] is a retired American professional basketball player and the head coach of the women's basketball team of Loyola University Chicago. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created.[2] She has won three Olympic Gold Medals and is a three-time WNBA MVP. Frequently referred to as the "female Michael Jordan", Swoopes is famous for both her offensive and defensive skills. In 2005, she averaged 18.6 points, 85% free throws, 4.3 assists, 2.65 steals and 37.1 minutes playing time per game. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history.

Early success[edit]

Born in Brownfield, Texas, Swoopes was raised by her mother Louise Swoopes, and played basketball with her three older brothers.[3] She began competing at age seven, in a local children's league called Little Dribblers.[4] Coached under Dickie Faught and Kathey Granger, Swoopes was a member and junior on the 1988 Texas State Championship team.[5]

College years[edit]

Initially recruited by the University of Texas, Swoopes left the school shortly after her arrival without playing a game, and enrolled at South Plains College. After playing at South Plains for two years, Swoopes transferred to Texas Tech.[3]

In 1993 Swoopes won the NCAA women's basketball championship with the Texas Tech Lady Raiders during her senior season. Her jersey was retired by the school the following year, making her one of only three Lady Raiders to be honored in this way. The others are Carolyn Thompson and Krista Kirkland, Swoopes' teammate from the 1993 championship team.[6]

As of 2010, Swoopes was still a part of the NCAA women's basketball record books in many categories, including single-game scoring record (53 points on March 13, 1993 vs. Texas, tied for tenth place), single-season scoring (955 points in the 1993 season, fourth place), highest Championship Tournament scoring average (35.4 in the 1993 tournament, second place), best single-game championship scoring performance (47 points vs. Ohio State,[7] 1993 championship), which broke Bill Walton's record,[3] and scoring record for championship series (177 points, five games). She set the record for the most field goals in the Championship game with sixteen.[8]

Swoopes also set several school records at Texas Tech. She scored 955 points in the 1992–93 season, which is an all-time scoring record for a single season (as of 2006). Swoopes' 24.9 points-per-game average for her career is the best in school history; she also boasts three triple-doubles and twenty-three double-doubles, fourteen of which came during her senior year.[9]

Swoopes was the 1993 winner of the Naismith College Player of the Year award, was selected as that year's WBCA Player of the Year, and was chosen to the Division I All-American squad in both 1992 and 1993. Swoopes was named the 1993 Sportswoman of the Year (in the team category) by the Women's Sports Foundation.[10]

USA Basketball[edit]

Swoopes was named to the USA national team and competed in the 1994 World Championships, held in June 1994 in Sydney, Australia. The team was coached by Tara VanDerveer, and won their first six games, when they faced Brazil. In a closely contested, high scoring game, Brazil hit ten of ten free throws in the final minute to secure a 110–107 victory. The USA won a close final game against Australia 100–95 to earn the bronze medal. Swoopes averaged 9.1 points per game, while recording seven steals, second highest on the team.[11]

Swoopes was selected to represent the USA at the 1995 USA Women's Pan American Games, however, only four teams committed to participate, so the event was cancelled.[12]

Swoopes continued as a member of the USA team at the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, Georgia USA. The USA team won all their pool play games by large margins, although they were behind Cuba by as much as seven points before Lisa Leslie's 24 points, helped the USA take over the game. The USA victory over Australia featured a record setting 15 assists by Teresa Edwards, while Johnson was the leading scorer with 24 points. Against Japan, Lisa Leslie set a USA Olympic scoring record with 35 points. In the final, the USA team faced 7–0 Brazil—a team that had beaten the USA squad in the 1991 Pan Am games and the 1994 World Championships. This time, playing before a home crowd of 32,987, the USA team started out very strong, hitting 71.9 per cent of their field goals leading to an eleven points margin at the half. The USA team scored the first eight points of the second half and won the gold medal 111–87. Smith was the third leading scorer for the team with 13.0 points per game, and was second on the team with 31 assists and 23 steals.[13]

In 2002, Swoopes was named to the national team which competed in the World Championships in Zhangjiagang, Changzhou and Nanjing, China. The team was coached by Van Chancellor. Swoopes scored 16.9 points per game, second highest on the team and recorded a team-high 24 steals. The USA team won all nine games, including a close title game against Russia, which was a one-point game late in the game.[14]

Swoopes was named to the National Team representing the USA at the 2006 World Championships, held in Barueri and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The team won eight of their nine contests, but the lone loss came in the semifinal medal round to Russia. The USA beat Brazil in the final game to earn the bronze medal. Swoopes, hampered by injuries, averaged 3.0 points per game and was second on the team with six blocks.[15]

WNBA career[edit]

Swoopes for the Seattle Storm in 2008

Swoopes was recruited for the Houston Comets of the WNBA during the 1997 inaugural season. She returned only six weeks after giving birth to her son to play the last third of the WNBA inaugural season[16] and lead the Comets in the 1997 WNBA Championship. As a member of the Houston Comets, she has accumulated over 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 300 career assists and 200 career steals. Her extraordinary scoring and defensive ability have made her the first three-time WNBA MVP (2000, 2002, 2005) and the first three-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year (2000, 2002, 2003). Swoopes is a four-time WNBA champion (1997–2000).

Swoopes is the second player in WNBA history to win both the regular season MVP award and the All-Star Game MVP award in the same season. The first player to accomplish this was Lisa Leslie. Swoopes is also the first player in WNBA history to record a playoff triple-double.

Swoopes gained national prominence when she won the gold medal with the USA Basketball Women's National Team (WNT) at the 1996 Olympic Games and became a focal point of the fledgling WNBA. The 1996 Olympic win over Brazil (117–87) is considered by some to be the "best woman's basketball game they'd ever seen."[17] She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2000, 2004).

Swoopes is the first women's basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the "Air Swoopes".[3]

On March 3, 2008, Swoopes signed with the Seattle Storm ending her eleven-year career with the Houston Comets. She was waived by the Storm on February 3, 2009.[18]

Two days after her fortieth birthday, sources for the Associated Press claimed that Swoopes was preparing to return to the WNBA in anticipation of an official signing announcement from the Tulsa Shock that was made on 28 March 2011.[19][20] At the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, she was announced as one of the Top 15 players in the fifteen-year history of the WNBA.[21]

On August 26, 2011, the 40-year-old Swoopes hit a buzzer-beating shot to edge the Los Angeles Sparks 77–75 and end the Shock's WNBA-record 20-game losing streak.[22]

Swoopes became an unrestricted free agent after the 2011 season: Tulsa Shock owner Steve Swetoha announced on 15 February 2012 that the team did not intend to offer Swoopes a new contract.[23] As of the beginning of the 2012 preseason on 5 May, Swoopes remains an unsigned free agent. While there has been no official announcement, when Swoopes began blogging at the Shape magazine website during the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, she identified herself as "a former professional basketball player."[24]

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]


International career[edit]


  • 1993–1994 : Italy Basket Bari
  • 2004–2005 : Russia VBM-SGAU Samara
  • 2005–2006 : Italy Taranto Cras Basket
  • 2010: Greece Esperides Kallitheas[25]

Personal life[edit]

Swoopes was married from June 1995 to 1999 to her high school sweetheart, with whom she had a son, Jordan Eric Jackson in 1997. In October 2005, with her announcement that she was gay, Swoopes became one of the highest profile athletes in a team sport to do so publicly. She and her partner, former basketball player and Houston Comets assistant coach, Alisa Scott, whom Swoopes at the time said she would like to someday marry, together raised Swoopes's son, Jordan.[26]

Swoopes said "it doesn't change who I am. I can't help who I fall in love with. No one can. ... Discovering I'm gay just sort of happened much later in life. Being intimate with [Alisa] or any other woman never entered my mind. At the same time, I'm a firm believer that when you fall in love with somebody, you can't control that."[27]

In 2008, Sheryl Swoopes made an appearance on Shirts & Skins, a reality series from the television channel LOGO. Swoopes flew out to mentor the San Francisco Rockdogs, a gay basketball team, and shared her experiences on basketball, family, faith, and coming out, helping to bring the team closer together.[28]

In 2009, Swoopes coached the girls basketball team at Mercer Island High School, while head coach Jamie Prescott was on maternity leave.

In 2011, Swoopes broke up with Alisa Scott and was reportedly engaged to Christopher Unclesho.[29][30]

Swoopes joined the Texas Tech women's basketball broadcast team as a color analyst in November 2012, marking the start of her career in broadcasting,[31] but soon left Tech again when offered her first head coaching position.

In 2013, Swoopes became Head Coach for Loyola University Chicago.

Swoopes reportedly cried upon receiving a photo of son Jordan's letter of intent to play basketball at her alma mater, Texas Tech, in late 2014.[32]

Awards and honors[edit]

Swoopes was the 1993 winner of the Honda Sports Award for basketball[33] She was listed in the Sports Illustrated 20 female athletes of the decade between 2000 and 2010. She was a MVP for the years 2000, 2002 and 2005. She also won the associated press female athlete of the year award for 1993.Swoopes is also featured by Equality forum as an LGBT history month icon for her outstanding achievements.[34] Swoopes is represented by Ryan Totka of Athlete Promotions.[35]


  1. ^ "Women's Basketball Coaches Career". NCAA. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "WNBA's Greatest Moments". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  3. ^ a b c d Porter p 464
  4. ^ "Sheryl Swoopes Playerfile". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  5. ^ RAY GLASSAssistant Sports Editor (1999-06-27). "High School Sports – Overcoming the Odds 06/27/99". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  6. ^ "Tech Hall of Honor Inducts New Class of Six". Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  7. ^ Grundy p 217
  8. ^ "Championship records remembered". NCAA. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Vote in our online poll: Sheryl Swoopes and Carolyn Thompson". The Daily Toreador. April 4, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Sportswoman of the Year". Women’s Sports Foundation. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Twelvth [sic] World Championship For Women -- 1994". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  12. ^ "Twelvth [sic] Pan American Games -- 1995". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Games of the XXVIth Olympiad – 1996". USA Basketball. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Fourteenth World Championship For Women -- 2002". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Fifteenth World Championship For Women -- 2006". USA Basketball. June 10, 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  16. ^ [httwswds 24, 2009
  17. ^ Grundy p 216
  18. ^ Sheryl Swoopes Waived by WNBA Storm, February 3, 2009
  19. ^ Feinberg, Doug (27 March 2011), "AP Source: Swoopes to sign with Tulsa Shock", Kansas City Star 
  20. ^ "Sheryl Swoopes Signs with Tulsa". Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  21. ^ Stanchak, Scott (2011-07-24). "Roundtable Discussion: WNBA Top 15 Players of All Time". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  22. ^ [1] Archived October 20, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Lantz, Jessica (16 February 2012). "Gary Kloppenburg's Plans For The Tulsa Shock Do Not Include Sheryl Swoopes, Betty Lennox". Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  24. ^ Swoopes, Sheryl (27 July 2012). "Olympic Fever Starts Now!". Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  25. ^ "Associated Press via, "Swoopes Replaces Wisdom-Hylton," January 6, 2010". 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  26. ^ Blaine Harden (July 26, 2008). "Washington State Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  27. ^ LZ Granderson (October 28, 2008). "Three-time MVP 'tired of having to hide my feelings'". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-11. 
  28. ^ "Sister Swoopes (Skins & Skins: Episode 4)". Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Maya Rupert: What Sheryl Swoopes' Engagement Means: Understanding the Role of Identity and Combo Guards". 2011-08-01. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  31. ^ "Sheryl Swoopes joins Texas Tech women’s basketball broadcast team for 2012–13". 8 November 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  32. ^ Solomon, Jerome (12 November 2014). "Swoopes' son making name for himself on basketball court". Houston Chronicle. 
  33. ^ "PAST HONDA SPORTS AWARD WINNERS FOR BASKETBALL". THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  34. ^
  35. ^


  • Grundy, Pamela (2005). Shattering the glass. New Press. ISBN 978-1-56584-822-1. 
  • Ikard, Robert W. (2005). Just for Fun: The Story of AAU Women's Basketball. The University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 978-1-55728-889-9. 
  • David L. Porter, ed. (2005). Basketball: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-30952-6. 

External links[edit]