Dearica Hamby, a WNBA basketball forward on the Las Vegas Aces, still has the email saved in her Sent folder from when she first reached out to Ron Waldon. Back when she was a junior at Wake Forest, Hamby got in touch with the former director of regional sales at Jordan Brand to ask for an internship. Hamby, who started playing basketball during her junior year of high school (which is considered late for the sport), figured if she didn’t make it as a player, she could get a corporate job with a brand like Jordan to work in the sports industry. Waldon connected her to different people at Jordan, but after a while she let the dream of interning go so she could focus on basketball.
By her senior year, she was averaging 20.3 points per game, the most in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In 2015, she was drafted to play for the San Antonio Stars.
Last year, she was named the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year, the best and most valuable player in the league coming off the bench, for the second season in a row. Also, she’s working with Jordan.
We caught up with her the other day for a quick chat.
Despite some steps in the right direction, the WNBA is leaps and bounds behind the NBA when it comes to so much. Female basketball players make seven times less than their male counterparts. How do you wrap your head around this all?
We understand the logistics and economics of our sport, but gaining respect [is a challenge]. For me personally, the biggest challenge is being a mom and an athlete at the same time. It’s hard to balance it all, but my daughter, Amaya, 4, is at the age where she can understand, so that’s helpful. She doesn’t get the credit she deserves, but she’s a big part of why I can do what I do and balance it all.
And you’re a single mom, right?
Yeah, and at the same time, I’m growing myself. I’m 28 years old, technically a single mom, and I’m still healing and learning things about me while raising a little human. So I’ve really spent time over the past few years trying to take care of myself so I can take care of my daughter. Having a huge support system, including my mom and sisters, really helps because it allows me to have time to myself to get a good grip on balancing.
What are some ways you take care of yourself?
I like to go be in my room and shut the door to have time to myself. It takes a lot of vulnerability, because I will tell my daughter, ‘Hey, Amaya, mommy doesn’t feel well, give mommy some time,’ and even at the tender age of 4, she can conceptualize what’s going on, and she understands what space is for me and what it looks like. and that’s really helpful. I’ve almost trained her, at this point.
What legacy do you want to leave?
I always emphasize to my daughter that you have to be a good person. That’s what I value and talk about all the time. There’s such a fine line between showing your child how to love people and be kind and also teaching them how to not be taken advantage of and how to set boundaries, and that’s what I try to display most. It’s hard to simultaneously be a good person and also stand up for yourself, but that’s most important for me and I want to implement that in my daughter and give her the proper tools to flourish in life while still letting her be who she is. That’s my legacy.
I’m sure you get tons of deals sent your way to promote brands or products. How do you decide what to take on and what to say no to?
It has to represent me and all of my values, which include family, loyalty, acceptance, and growth. The brands that I represent represent that. Being in a space where women don’t make a ton of money, I only seek out deals that allow me to authentically be me.