Former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes is getting the ultimate basketball recognition. In September, the four-time WNBA champion will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Swoopes started her career at Texas Tech and helped the team to a national championship in 1993 during her senior year. After college, she played with the U.S. national team for several years. Swoopes was the first player to sign with the WNBA when the league was established in 1997, beginning her career with the Houston Comets. In her first season with the Comets, she took time off to give birth to her son. She continued playing with the team through 2007.
Aside from her many accomplishments on the court, Swoopes was also the first woman to have a Nike basketball signature shoe, dubbed the Air Swoopes, which arrived in 1996.
Marni Gerber, the shoe’s designer, said that it was based on Swoopes’ personality, as well as the needs of female basketball players who had previously been wearing men’s shoes in small sizes.
“It was inspired by Sheryl’s tenacity and her desire to be in the face of her competition,” Gerber recalled in 2012. “I went to Lubbock, Texas, to see her life, her family and friends. She was a tough girl with a sweet side.”
After stints with the Seattle Storm and Tulsa Shock, Swoopes retired in 2011. She’s now the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Loyola University in Chicago.
Swoopes will be inducted alongside other great players, including Allen Iverson, Yao Ming and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, among others.