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Chamique Holdsclaw Interview

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On the final day of the 2001 WNBA regular season, Jeff met Washington's star forward Chamique Holdsclaw and discussed her growth as a basketball superstar.

Jeff Lenchiner: You're from Astoria (Queens, New York City); what courts did you grow up playing on?

Chamique Holdsclaw: They had a park right in my housing complex. Middle courts, we call it, right in my housing complex, in Astoria park. That's where I played, right around the corner.

Jeff: How old were you when you started playing, and how old were you when you started getting really good?

Chamique Holdsclaw: When I started playing basketball, I was like ten or eleven. Playing well, probably, twelve, thirteen.

Jeff: Who made you good, besides yourself?

Chamique Holdsclaw: Just playing with the guys out there, it was always a challenge. I guess I was a tomboy at the time, so, I was just always playing with the guys all the time.

Jeff: And eventually you started beating them...

Chamique Holdsclaw: Yeah, eventually I got kinda good, and I was winning, and so, they started hitting their growth spurs, then I was like, "golly, they're kinda tall..." but, I was just out there handling it, playing with the guys.

Jeff: And when did you figure out that you could make a career out of playing ball?

Chamique Holdsclaw: Not until, probably my sophomore year of college, when the leagues came about. And then, early on, what I really wanted to do was just go to college, and get a scholarship to go to college, that was my main goal, and my grandmother always said "stay in school until you can afford the things in life that you want," so, I was like looking at going to law school or something.

Jeff: And then you were like, "Oh, wow, I can make a living doing this..."

Chamique Holdsclaw: Yeah, it's definitely been a blessing, you know, it's like, this is the path that God has chosen for me, sometimes there's other things more than basketball out there in life, but I always say, this might be my calling, so I'll play as long as I can. As long as I'm healthy, good, I'll keep playing basketball, because it's all a blessing.

Jeff: How does it feel being in your old neighborhood, now that you've made it?

Chamique Holdsclaw: It's the same, even my grandmother doesn't want to move, and even when I go back it's like, I don't know too many people there, but it's just like home, everybody knows me, and it's good to go back to the community where I was and be an inspiration to so many young kids. As soon as I go home, I can come in at 3 o'clock in the morning, but then I'll stay at my grandmother's house sometimes and people be knocking on the door from like ten o'clock in the morning, all the little kids, no one can hardly see me come in, because I always come in late at night. They'll just knock on the door because I'm who they look up to. A lot of them don't have good role models, or come from tough situations - I just know when I'm home I'll sit outside in front of my building, sign autographs all day, and talk to the kids, because that's what it's about. When I was younger, I had people who did that for me, the main one was probably my grandmother, just somebody to talk to and show you that there's so much more you can achieve.

Jeff Lenchiner: So how does it feel to see these kids all excited, with their eyes getting big, looking up to you...

Chamique Holdsclaw: (Happy laughter) It feels good, just to have an impact on someone's life. I have fans come up to me who just start crying, and I'm just like, "Oh my God..." you have an impact on someone's life, the first time you meet someone, the words that you say can possibly change someone's life, so, first impression is everything.


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