In the WNBA, there isn’t a more dominating talent than A’ja Wilson. Since she entered the league, Wilson has showcased her unique skill set. She has been a vital piece in the Las Vegas Aces’ puzzle to success in recent years. Wilson is a player that shouldn’t be left one on one. It’s that simple.
The WNBA MVP has always been involved in social justice. She’s been active in promoting societal change for all people, but specifically women of color. Her efforts off the court are more impressive than her efforts on it. A’ja Wilson hopes her latest accomplishment can be motivation for the ones coming behind her.
A’ja Wilson’s roots in South Carolina
Before Wilson became a WNBA sensation, she was a young girl from Hopkins, South Carolina. Her family has a basketball background, as her father played overseas for 10 years. She was a standout player in high school, averaging over 27 points a game. As a senior, she helped lead her high school team to the state championship. Wilson was an elite recruit, being the No. 1 prospect on ESPN’s list in 2014.
Wilson decided to rep her home state in college, committing to the University of South Carolina. Under head coach Dawn Staley, Wilson thrived during her four-year career there. She became a three-time All-American and three-time SEC player of the year. Wison led the Gamecocks to their first Final Four in 2015 and helped them win their first national title in 2017. She became the school’s all-time leading scorer during her tenure at South Carolina.
The roots run deep for A’ja Wilson in South Carolina. She grew up right outside the Columbia area as a kid, only to suit up for the Gamecocks as a collegiate athlete. She’s never forgotten where she came from, and the University of South Carolina won’t ever forget about one of their greatest players. They have honored Wilson in a way that will keep her associated with her school for years to come.
South Carolina unveils statue of A’ja Wilson
The University of South Carolina recognizes the run Wilson had during her time there. It was one of the better careers of a collegiate athlete in the 2010s. As a way to honor her greatness on and off the court, the school created a statue of Wilson. The statue received a public unveiling on Jan. 18.
The statue shows the basketball star leaping through the air and taking a shot. It is in front of the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina. The statue’s release was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Wilson understands the magnitude of unveiling her statue on such an important day.
“It’s just truly a blessing and, for it to fall on MLK Day is just something that’s just truly special to me,” Wilson said per WBTV.
“My grandmother couldn’t even walk on this campus; she had to walk around [it]. If she was here today to see her granddaughter has a statue where she once could not walk…it goes to show how you just plant seeds, and that’s what it’s all about,” Wilson said via Zoom per ESPN.
Wilson’s statue in her home state is such a significant accomplishment. Her exceptional play on the court is one reason why she is so deserving of the statue. Her efforts off the court also solidify her as a South Carolina legend and one of the WNBA’s more prominent leaders when it comes to social justice and societal change.
A’ja Wilson and the WNBA’s impact on social justice
The WNBA is one of the sports leagues that have always been active and engaging in social justice movements. The players have the freedom to discuss, protest, and support movements they feel strongly about. Since entering the league, A’ja Wilson has been a leader in the league’s social justice realm.
She is a founding member of the WNBA’s social justice council. The social justice council aims to “address this country’s long history of inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted Black and brown communities,” per their website.
Wilson has also been active in speaking out against social injustice and police brutality. She and other WNBA players’ activism helped bring attention to these issues. The league MVP hopes that her actions and her statue will be an inspiration to everyone, especially the little black and brown girls who look up to her.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight. But little Black girls can look at that statue and say, ‘Wow.’ I’m always going to be unapologetically me, and I hope those young Black girls see the role models that are here in front of them,” Wilson said.
A’ja Wilson is being recognized for her greatness with a statue, but she isn’t focused on that part of it. She sees her statue as a beacon for generations to come. She wants them to see that if you be yourself and work hard, success will come. Her impact on and off the court makes Wilson such a phenomenal athlete who is only 24 years old.