Legendary basketball player Lisa Leslie has broken several barriers for women in the realm of sports. The California native will be recognized in a major way for all of her accomplishments. According to Bleacher Report, she will be honored with a statue outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The addition of the statue is historic as it will mark the first time that a woman athlete will have a sculpture outside of the arena. It’s undeniable that Leslie is a basketball trailblazer. She was a part of the inaugural WNBA season in 1997. During her career in the league—which lasted 12 years—she hit several milestones. Leslie was the first woman to dunk in a WNBA game and became the first player in the league to reach 6,000 career points. She has two WNBA championship titles under her belt and was named league MVP three times. She also has four Olympic gold medals. Leslie joins a prominent list of other legendary athletes who have been honored with statues outside of the Staples Center including Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There is no word on when the statue will be unveiled.
Leslie—who coaches a team in the Big3 league—says that her career moves have always been about opening doors for women in male-dominated spaces. “I always understood and respected the women who came before me. I love the fact that we have so many pioneers of the game and they get to still be a part of it,” she told Hoops Hype in an interview. “I’m always cognizant that we’re connected by a thread. And we all know what we’re capable of doing and we appreciate the opportunity to knock down doors and open doors for the other women who are coming in behind us.”
News about Leslie’s statue comes shortly after a sculpture of the late legendary tennis player Althea Gibson was unveiled outside of Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York during the U.S. Open tennis tournament.