Today, if you visit the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, you’ll see 10 statues of athletes who are considered to be legends in the city. But those statues are all of men, however, that won’t be the case for much longer.
According to the Bleacher Report, retired WNBA player Lisa Leslie will be the first female athlete to have a statue outside of the famed L.A. arena, and the first WNBA player to have a statue outside of a team’s home building.
Lisa Leslie will be the first woman to have a statue in front of the Staples Center. (Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Sports Images via Getty Images)
After being selected by the Los Angeles Sparks in the league’s first draft in 1997, Leslie could easily be considered the face of the WNBA, since she helped popularize its brand. She also played with the Sparks for her entire 12-year-career.
In 2001 Leslie was the first WNBA player to win a regular-season MVP, an All-Star Game MVP and a playoff MVP in the same season. She’d end up winning two more regular season MVPs after that and two more All-Star MVPs as well. The 6-foot-5 center was also the first WNBA player to dunk in a game.
Leslie won two championships with the Sparks in 2001 and 2002 to boot, and racked up four Olympic medals for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.
After Leslie retired in 2009, she became a partial owner of the Sparks, and in 2012 she started the Lisa Leslie Basketball & Leadership Academy.
Her statue was arranged by the Sparks and Anschutz Entertainment Group, who’ve yet to announce when it will be put up. Others who’ve had a statue erected outside of the Staples Center include Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal.
Today, Leslie is married to Michael Lockwood, and they have a son named Michael Joseph, as well as a daughter, Lauren Jolie. Leslie also coaches the BIG3 basketball team the Triplets, who recently won the championship.