Growing up in dire poverty in Suffolk, Virginia, Sugar (born Ta’Shauna) Rodgers never imagined that she would become an all-star player in the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association). Both of her siblings were in and out of prison throughout much of her childhood and shootings in her neighborhood were commonplace. For Sugar this was just a fact of life.
While academics wasn’t a high priority for Sugar and many of her friends, athletics always played a prominent role. She mastered her three-point shot on a net her brother put up just outside their home, eventually becoming so good that she could hustle local drug dealers out of money in one-on-one contests.
With the love and support of her family and friends, Sugar’s performance on her high school basketball team led to her recruitment by the Georgetown Hoyas, and her eventual draft into the WNBA in 2013 by the Minnesota Lynx (who won the WNBA Finals in Sugar’s first year). The first of her family to attend college, Sugar speaks of her struggles both academically and as an athlete with raw honesty.
Sugar’s road to a successful career as a professional basketball player is fraught with sadness and death–including her mother’s death when she’s fourteen, which leaves Sugar essentially homeless. Throughout it all, Sugar clings to basketball as a way to keep herself focused and sane.
And now Sugar shares her story as a message of hope and inspiration for young girls and boys everywhere, but especially those growing up in economically challenging conditions. Never sugarcoating her life experiences, she delivers a powerful message of discipline, perseverance, and always believing in oneself.
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