A Young Woman’s Journey

Being a professional athlete provides a large platform to do a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people. Few athletes have used that platform to make a more profound impact on their community than the longest-tenured member of the Chicago Sky, Tamera Young.

Young derives much of her strength from her faith and from that strength springs a generous well of compassion and empathy. In a profile that she wrote for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes magazine, Young outlined her philosophy, “I’m living to inspire others to follow their dreams and let God direct their paths.”

Young was surrounded by role models from an early age. Growing up in Wilmington, NC, Young spent her formative years watching how the strong women in her family embraced their challenges in life and fought to overcome them. Whether it was her Grandmother Massie Young, who Tamera watched battle breast cancer for years before succumbing to the disease when she was just nine years old, or her Aunt Patricia Nichols who was diagnosed with cancer in Young’s junior year in college, who fought the disease into remission, and whose victory over nearly impossible odds serves as a testament to the strength of character that defines both sides of the Young family. Even beyond her own bloodlines, Young followed in some incredible footsteps going to the same high school (Laney High) as Michael Jordan, before heading to James Madison University, where she created her own lasting legacy: breaking school scoring records on her way to becoming the first player in school history to make the WNBA, after being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

Since joining the WNBA, Young has averaged 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game over eight seasons between two teams. She has traveled to play in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Israel and Turkey, but she had never forgotten where she came from, and she has never forgotten what she believes she was put on this earth to do.

Even after a rigorous offseason of basketball and international travel, Young continued to use her downtime to give back to the Chicago-area community. “Being here in the offseason, doing community service throughout different events for the Sky, it’s great to just give back,” said Young. “A lot of the events I did I was interacting with kids and giving them hope that they can achieve their dreams. It made me feel good to see that.”

Young’s busy schedule this past offseason included a host of community service events including leading youth basketball clinics and workshops, lacing up in a charity celebrity game in February that raised funds for three non-profit organizations, joining her teammates at Guilford High School in April to help run a camp for 8-14 year olds and headlining a Culinary Kids event at Resurrection High School in March.

The WNBA has not only become a grand stage to advance the sport of women’s basketball worldwide, but also a vehicle for young women to use their status as role models to bring about positive change. Young has embraced that challenge and she continues to use her platform to make a positive impact on others.