Sheryl Denise Swoopes (born March 25, 1971) is an American professional basketball player who, subesquent to being waived into free agency, signed to re-join the WNBA to play with the Tulsa Shock in 2011. She was the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created. 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.
==Early success== Born in Brownfield, Texas, Swoopes was raised by her mother Louise Swoopes, and played basketball with her three older brothers. She began competing at age seven, in a local children's league called Little Dribblers. Coached under Dickie Faught and Kathey Granger, Swoopes was a member and junior on the 1988 Texas State Championship team.
==College years== 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.
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.
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, 1993 championship), which broke Bill Walton's record, and scoring record for championship series (177 points, five games).
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.
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.
==WNBA career== 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 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." 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".
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.
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==Personal life == 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 is gay, Swoopes became one of the most high 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 she would like to someday marry, are together raising Swoopes's son, Jordan.
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."
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.
As of 2009, Swoopes has been coaching the girls basketball team at Mercer Island High School, while head coach Jamie Prescott has been on maternity leave.
- WNBA.com: WNBA's Greatest Moments
- Porter p 464
- WNBA.com Sheryl Swoopes Playerfile
- High School Sports - Overcoming the Odds 06/27/99
- "Tech Hall of Honor Inducts New Class of Six". http://www.lubbockonline.com/stories/100403/col_100403012.shtml. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- Grundy p 217
- "Vote in our online poll: Sheryl Swoopes and Carolyn Thompson". The Daily Toreador. April 4, 2007. http://media.www.dailytoreador.com/media/storage/paper870/news/2007/04/03/Sports/Vote-In.Our.Online.Poll.Sheryl.Swoopes.And.Carolyn.Thompson-2819063.shtml?reffeature=htmlemailedition.
- "Sportswoman of the Year Award". Women's Sports Foundation. http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/News-And-Events/Awards/Sportswoman-of-the-Year-Award.aspx. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
- Candace Parker is Putting Family First NY Times, January 24, 2009
- Grundy p 216
- Sheryl Swoopes Waived by WNBA Storm SI.com, February 3, 2009
- "Sheryl Swoopes Signs with Tulsa". http://sports.espn.go.com/wnba/news/story?id=6266254. Retrieved 29 March 2011.
- Associated Press via ESPN.com, "Swoopes Replaces Wisdom-Hylton," January 6, 2010
- Blaine Harden (July 26, 2008). "Washington State Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072600406.html. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
- LZ Granderson (October 28, 2008). "Three-time MVP 'tired of having to hide my feelings'". ESPN The Magazine. http://sports.espn.go.com/wnba/news/story?id=2203853. Retrieved 2008-12-11.
- Sister Swoopes (Skins & Skins: Episode 4)
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- Photo Gallery - Photos featuring Sheryl Swoopes