Leslie, Lisa (Basketball Player)

Lisa Leslie (born July 7, 1972 in Gardena, California) is an American Women’s National Basketball Association player currently playing for the Los Angeles Sparks. One of the original WNBA players, she quickly rose to stardom as one of the league’s most top-performing and popular players. She has won two WNBA Championships. She has also made history by becoming the first player to perform a dunk in that league.

High school years

Leslie became a famous basketball player long before her career in the WNBA began. The daughter of a female truck driver and sibling of two sisters, she was quite tall even in her youth, already standing six feet tall (1.83 m) when she started playing basketball in the seventh grade. She was a dominating player made legendary by scoring 101 points in the first half of a high school basketball game, and might have broken Cheryl Miller’s high school record of 105 points if the other team had not forfeited at halftime.

College years

Lisa Leslie attended the University of Southern California. She was a four time All-Pacific 10 Conference first team selection.

WNBA career

Leslie was one of the original members of the Los Angeles Sparks when the WNBA’s first season opened in 1997. She had stated her intentions of dunking in a game before the first season even started, and she tried to dunk the ball on the first game of that season, against the New York Liberty, but she missed.

Throughout the late 1990s, the Sparks kept making the playoffs, but getting eliminated as the Houston Comets claimed every WNBA championship played in that decade. However, in 2001, the Sparks were finally able to topple the Comets, and they beat the Charlotte Sting to win the WNBA title for the first time. In 2001, she was named MVP of the league, the all-star game and the finals.

On July 30 of 2002, against the Miami Sol, she finally became the first woman to score with a dunk in a WNBA game. Teammate Latasha Byears stole the ball, while Leslie was already past half court. Byers’ outlet pass led Leslie towards the open basket running. Leslie then jumped towards the hoop and with one hand, dunked. The Staples Center crowd, and her teammates erupted into a spontaneous celebration that stopped the game for a few minutes. Eight days before, she had become the first WNBA player to have over 3,000 career points, when she scored 24 points against the Orlando Miracle. That summer, she helped the Sparks to their second straight world championship, beating the Liberty. Her WNBA dunk is the only one in WNBA history.

On July 29 of 2004, she reached the milestone of 4,000 career points, scoring 17 points in an 85-80, double overtime victory over the Sacramento Monarchs.

International career

Leslie has also been a member of the United States’ national women’s basketball team. She helped lead them to gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, and in the world championships of basketball.

Leslie was a member of the 2004 Olympic gold medal winner United States women’s national basketball team.

Off the court

Leslie is also a fashion model and aspiring actress on the side. During the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in 2005 Lisa worked on the air for ESPN adding key insight and commentary. Early in her WNBA career, she signed a contract with the Wilhelmina modeling agency. She has also appeared in an episode of The Jersey, as well as various commercials.

Vital statistics

  • Position: Center
  • Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
  • College: University of Southern California, ’94
  • Team(s): Los Angeles Sparks (WNBA)

Career highlights

  • Was the WNBA all-time leading scorer averaging 16.9 points and 10.4 rebounds in 2002
  • Named MVP of the WNBA Championship and All-Star Game in 2002
  • Member of Gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic teams in 1996, and 2000
  • In 2002 helped the USA team clinch another gold medal finish at the USA World Championships, and was rewarded with MVP and All-Tournament team honors
  • On 7/30/02 vs. Miami Sol, made history by becoming the first WNBA player to dunk in a game
  • Became the first WNBA player to reach the 3,000 point plateau when she scored 24 points, and added a career-high eight assists, two blocked shots, and tied a career-high with 21 rebounds in win over Orlando 7/22/02
  • Four time All-WNBA First Team selection (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002) and two-time All-WNBA Second Team selection (1998, 1999)
  • Named MVP of the regular season, WNBA Championship and All-Star Game in 2001 to become the first player ever to garner all three awards in the same season.
  • Led the Sparks to victory in the 2001 WNBA Championship
  • Three-time All-WNBA First Team selection (1991, 2000, 2001) and two-time All-WNBA Second Team selection (1998, 1999)
  • Led the WNBA in rebounds in 1997 (9.5 rpg) and 1998 (10.2 rpg)
  • Member of Gold-medal winning U.S Olympic teams in 1996 and 2000

Personal Bio

  • Returned to school in the 2002 off-season to work on a Master’s Degree in Business Administration
  • Signed a modeling contract with Wilhemina Models, Inc. in June 1996
  • One of five Olympic athletes featured in a Herb Ritts photo spread for Vogue magazine and has modeled designs by Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Gigi Hunter and Anne Klein
  • The woman she most admires is her mom, Christine Leslie-Espinoza, a cross-country truck driver
  • Lisa has two sisters and four half brothers
  • Has appeared in the TV shows Hangtime, Moesha, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and the Weakest Link
  • Has done color commentary for several USC basketball games and has also been a guest correspondent on NBA Inside Stuff
  • Intends to continue broadcasting when basketball career is over
  • Her favorite meal is Penne Pasta and Marinara sauce

Source: Wikipedia

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  1. Avatar for gretchenLinda Harris says

    Lisa, I walk into airports restaurants, aquariums or walking down the street and people always mistake me for you. I almost was tempted to get a free meal….LOL
    I was getting my car washed today and the guy said I thought you were Lisa….
    That’s when I said enough..I am going to email her
    They say we look so much alike and I am 6 ft tall. Please continue to do the right thing for both of our sakes.
    I hope to meet you someday
    Much Success To You
    Miss Linda

  2. Avatar for gretchenMoriah says

  3. Avatar for gretchenLisa Craig says


    Thanks for having a feedback site on the web; I am so glad you all started a women’s pro- basketball team, it’ll keep more women strong for the future. I wanted to write to see if it is true that you started a company for your mom, truck driving(?). After working for lots of guys and not getting ahead, even with more education (BS), I was looking for a women headed business; where it has more to do with how hard and well you work instead of which gender you are. Any ideas?

    Keep going with building up girls and the first slam dunk!

    Take care,

  4. Avatar for gretchenAlissa says

    I love watching you play it makes my wish that i was you!! Being the caption of my team im always telling then to think of you and how you was able to become pro in your high school career…i keep pushing my post to work on here hops so she can be the first girl in this area to dunk it just like you!!

  5. Avatar for gretchen says

    Damm you are so wounderful I watch most of your games and this olympics was so good even though I started skew when they started I got around it but i’m writing a report for my 8th grade passing requerment and I’m doing it on you because you have inspired me to play basketball and hope to go to the olympics some day but until then I’ll play and learn from watching you

  6. Avatar for gretchenRoma Rockwell says

    lisa leslie you are histiry you are so cool and awesome this is why i started to play basketball :”>:):d;):)>-:x

  7. Avatar for gretchenmckensi says

    Lisa Leslie i have played basketball since kindergarten and i am in sixth grade and i chose you to do my biography on you becaause you inspire me a whole lot.:x

  8. Avatar for gretchenholly says

    lisa i play jv basketball and im in 9th grade and im a huge fan im a point guard i love you so much i have tons of shirts of urs, also i want to be in the wnba i have the heart to play and ive been playing since ive been in 2nd grade none stop and ive never quite.your my biggest fan and insperation in life.thanks

  9. Avatar for gretchenTiara says

    Hey lisa…. I am in the 9th grade i play freshman im only 4’11…………..I know im small but hey i can ball you name it i can do it… Im am currently Working my Butt off for a spot on JV… NOT to mant short people can make WNBA
    I have been playing basketball since i was at least 5 who knows… But basketball is my life there are alot of insparation Hard working basketball players out there and i know i would be one of them.. right know candace parker is my idol. Basketball is in my heart nothing will take that away… Hopefully i have what it take:)>-
    Thank You!!!

  10. Avatar for gretchenCalyn says

    You are in inspriation to me. I just got done reading your book today and i loved it. I am doing a presentation of you for my English Honors class and she said pick a person thats inspires you so I chose you…Thank you for bein such an inspiration.

  11. Avatar for gretchentesia says

    i have a daughter she is 5-7 this is her first year playing basketball, she is in the 7th grade and we both admire you,you have been such an inspiration to us she to wants to go to the wnba, i told her it takes a lot of hardwork. keep up the good work GIRL POWER

  12. Avatar for gretchentiara lawrence says

    hi Lisa Leslie, my name is Tiara Lawrence i live in Detriot Michigan, i am writing this letter, cause i wanna know how i get into the WNBA, cause the simple fact is i have been homeless since i was fifteen, and basketball is my passion, even though i don’t have anywhere to go, i still wake up everyday and go to the gym and play ball, i want to do what i do best for my career, and i want to know, how do i get started with that, so if you can write me back if possible i would really appreciate it, thanks and you are my role model and idol…….

    • Avatar for gretchengretchen says

      Tiara – I don’t know if Lisa has ever seen this entry on my site, but I’m betting her advice would be similar to mine Most women in the WNBA get their break while playing school sports. They typically get scholarships or get scouted to play right out of high school and more typically college. If you’re serious about the game, I highly recommend you finish high school and work yourself into a good college that has an established women’s basketball team if you haven’t already completed either of these educational opportunities. Playing on a team – any team – will score you way more points than just practicing on your own. You’ll make the right connections and meet the right people to help you move forward with your dream.

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