She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey [NOOK Book]

Overview

WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Cynthia Cooper shares her extraordinary story in this fascinating and inspiring book that proves that hard work, commitment, and determination can pave the way for success--no matter what the odds.
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She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey

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Overview

WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Cynthia Cooper shares her extraordinary story in this fascinating and inspiring book that proves that hard work, commitment, and determination can pave the way for success--no matter what the odds.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Houston Chronicle
She set a basketful of records and is often referred to as the best female player in the world.
Sports Illustrated for Women
Cynthia Cooper embodies what the women's game is all about: skill, athleticism, pride, and dignity. In her autobiography, She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey she tries to explain where all that came from. Her life...her journey from childhood traumas to today's triumphs on the court and off is the life of a winner in the purest sense of the word. With all the well-earned fan worship WNBA players are enjoying, you'd think once you've heard one inspirational story, you've heard them all. She Got Game proves you'd be wrong.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although women's basketball has only come to prominence in the U.S. in the last few years, Cooper has been competitively engaged since 1981, first as a player for USC, then in local European leagues and for two U.S. Olympic teams. She is currently a star with the WNBA's two-time defending champion Houston Comets. All this experience should give the 36-year old Watts native, who has helped raise two nephews and watched her mother battle breast cancer, a deep well from which to draw. But her memoir reads like a perfunctory exercise riddled with motivational platitudes ("If there's one thing my life illustrates it's this: `Put an obstacle in front of me and I'll overcome it.'" Readers learn that during Cooper's fatherless childhood, her mother "worked to give us a better chance in life," but Cooper doesn't delve beyond this. The story looks like it will take a more substantive turn when Cooper describes her struggles to adapt and embrace new cultures when she played in Spain and Italy, but again she offers only superficial details ("Paella is a rice-based dish usually made with seafood or chicken.... It's delicious"). Had it been told well, Cooper's story could surely have been inspirational. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Cooper's odyssey took her from Watts, where she was one of eight children, to Olympic glory and her role as one of the top female players in the WNBA.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446554886
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/14/2008
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 703 KB

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


The one thing that drives me and keeps me motivated is that I've always been the underdog. Always. Growing up in a large family of eight kids, I was the overlooked middle child. One of my four older siblings or three younger ones always seemed to be the center of attention. Never me.

I was a shy and introverted little girl, not comfortable with how I looked or what I had to say. I felt insignificant. I tried to hide my pain by keeping to myself and masking my feelings.

I was an underdog in basketball, too. Playing in college, on U.S. national teams and for more than a decade in the European professional leagues, I took a back seat to others. Even when I became a leading scorer in Europe and one of the top players overseas, I never received much publicity or notice. There were always bigger names around, drawing most of the attention.

My time to shine wasn't in college or on the national teams. I had to play a supporting role to help those teams become successful. I never was the go-to player or what fans and media would consider the star.

But now, playing in the WNBA, my time to shine has finally arrived. I've become the kind of player I always wanted to be and dreamed I could be. During the many long years I spent out of the spotlight, watching other players receive all the honors and recognition, I kept telling myself, "I am not less of a player or less of a person. I am going to continue to work on my game, I am going to grow as a person and I'm going to show everyone who I really am and—wait a minute, hold on—I've got a little bit of personality, too."

I am no longer that timid and shylittle girl who grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles, unsure of herself, unsure of her future, not knowing where she was going and without direction or purpose.

That little girl, a true underdog, has become a distant memory. I know what I want. I want to play to the best of my ability and be a leader for my Houston teammates. I want to promote women's basketball and help market the WNBA. I want to provide a better future for my family, especially my nieces and nephews who live with my mother and me in the suburbs of Houston.

I also want to serve as a role model for kids in the inner city who think their lives are hopeless or there's no way out.

If I don't know anything else—and there are a lot of things I don't know—I know where I'm going in life. I am going to succeed and excel. And I would love to bring along with me every single person who is scared or unsure or uncertain of themselves.

If someone feels surrounded by life or trapped in a bad situation, or if they think they can't possibly succeed, I am here to tell that person she or he can escape from that bad situation. Each of us has within ourselves the power to make a better, brighter life.

I know, because I did it.

People never had great expectations for me. Most of the people I knew growing up would give me a million reasons why I shouldn't succeed instead of giving me one reason why I should.

But despite the negativity that surrounded my life in the inner city—the gangs, drugs and violence—I believed in myself. I established goals as a basketball player and a person. I didn't want to prove my doubters wrong as much as I wanted to prove that I was right.

I've noticed that a lot of people get sidetracked worrying about what others say about them. They get hung up worrying about people's opinions of what they can or can't accomplish. They get discouraged by listening to people talk about their supposed shortcomings and limitations.

I learned long ago that I can't control what other people think or say. But I can control what I think and say, and what I do in my life. I can control where I'm headed.

Rather than listening to others, people need to learn to focus on what they can do, what they want to do and how they can go about accomplishing whatever it is they want to accomplish.

That's where I keep my focus: what I want to do and how I'm going to do it.

The success of the Houston Comets and the WNBA has given me the opportunity to make a difference and to have an impact on the lives of our youth. Not only with my nieces and nephews but on the lives of youth in America and internationally. My success in women's basketball has given me the chance to leave my mark on the world in a positive light.

It's also given me a chance, for the first time in my life, to be me. I can say what I mean and mean what I say. It's the real me that has come out since the Houston Comets emerged as back-to-back WNBA champions.

It's not the middle child. It's not the role player. It's not the basketball player overshadowed by her teammates. It's not an underdog—it's the real me. I have taken on responsibility as a WNBA leader, as a daughter and an aunt. I'm making the decisions for my own life. I'm the one who's accountable.

I know what I want to accomplish and where I want to go. When I don't know the answers to the questions I face, I'm not afraid to ask for help. I no longer feel, as I once did, that asking questions makes you less of a person or that it means you're dumb, ignorant or stupid. I've discovered that it's the person who doesn't ask questions who is ignorant, because he or she remains that way.

Two years ago, before the Houston Comets became one of the hottest teams in professional sports, I was just an average, everyday person. I could go anywhere and do anything without being recognized or stopped on the street. I didn't have to worry about marketing people, marketing agreements and contracts. I didn't have to worry about book deals and movie deals. I didn't have to worry about the correct wording in a contract. But I've had to learn all that.

The only way to learn is to not be scared about speaking up when you don't understand something. To ask questions and to not be fooled by someone telling you it's not your responsibility, that an agent or a marketing company will handle things.

It is your responsibility. Everything we do is our own responsibility. What I learned from the example my mother, Mary Cobbs, set for me—besides how to work hard, make sacrifices, trust in the Lord and take responsibility for my actions—is that each of us can do more.

Doing more is one message I take to audiences whenever I'm invited to speak. I used to have to beg people to let me speak at their schools or camps or fund-raising events. Now, after the success of the Houston Comets and the individual recognition I've received, people are begging me to talk.

"You can achieve something more," I say. "You can always get better. You can be a better friend to your friends, a better sister to your brothers, a better daughter to your parents. When you realize you can do more tomorrow than you're doing today, you will get inspired. You'll develop a fire within yourself, a desire to become a better person, a better doctor, lawyer or athlete. You'll have a hunger and thirst for knowledge. Because knowledge is power."

I've had people come up to me after my speeches and tell me they've been inspired. A woman who recently heard me speak at a church in Houston told me afterward that I'd motivated her to go back to college and finish her degree. It's gratifying to think that I'm having a positive impact on some people's lives, that I'm able to make a difference.

There's one other message I try to stress in speeches: Don't put limits on yourself. Reach as high as you can. Keep raising the bar. After spending more than a decade in Europe, I had every reason to come back to the United States and not play at such a high level. I was thirty-four years old when the WNBA started in 1997, an age at which many women basketball players have already turned to coaching or other pursuits.

Many people associated with women's basketball thought my best years were behind me. It would have been easy for me to go along with that line of thinking and say, "Hey, you know what? They're right. I'm not in my prime anymore."

I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't accept that thinking. I've spent a lot of years paying my dues in women's basketball; when the WNBA got under way, it was time to collect.

The number one thing I wanted to do in the WNBA was show everyone I could play basketball at the high level I'd maintained in Europe. I wanted my family and friends, especially my mother, to see how my game has grown and matured since I was the sparkplug sixth man on the USC Lady Trojans NCAA championship teams in the early 1980s.

The past two years have been like a dream fulfilled. Words could never express how it feels to play in front of a sold-out Houston crowd of 16,285 people who worship every move you make and every shot you take. Fans who give you unconditional support.

Words can't explain how it feels to have people chanting in unison, "MVP! MVP! MVP!" Hearing that brought tears to my eyes at the free throw line. It was like a wake-up call to what was happening, because I get so wrapped up in the game I don't realize the magnitude of it all. It's truly awesome.

To see where we've come from and where women's basketball is going and the immense opportunity we now have brings joy to my heart. And some sadness, too, because there are a lot of great women players this opportunity has passed by.

Just to be part of the WNBA is special, but to actually excel and go down in history as the league's first superstar is amazing. It's special to me and my family, and it's even more gratifying because my mother has been part of it.

As many basketball fans already know, Mary Cobbs was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before the WNBA began its inaugural season. It's been a difficult period for our family, but the success of the Comets and the accolades for her daughter have brought joy to Mother's life and helped her fight in the battle with cancer.

Some WNBA players probably take what the league has going for granted, but I'm not one of them. I've been through the wringer playing basketball. I've had to survive a lot of tough times—like being forced to go abroad to pursue my dream and having to stay overseas so long, in a different culture, away from family and friends.

Circumstances forced me to lose touch with people I grew up with. Those are years and experiences I can never replace.

Since I made all those sacrifices, I'm able to appreciate the WNBA and the opportunities that we have more than most. It's my job now to make sure the next generation of women basketball players, and the generations after it, don't have to go overseas.

That could be an option, certainly, but it would no longer be a necessity. If we handle things right, women basketball players will be able to stay home and live in America and make a living doing something they love to do.

To me, this book is about finding yourself, believing in yourself and awakening to the fact that it's you who determines your future and what you do with your life. You can take control.

I got off to a slow start. I was a true underdog, unsteady and unsure of myself. Once I gained some self-confidence and learned to believe in myself, I began to soar.

I know you can, too. Just follow me.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

The one thing that drives me and keeps me motivated is that I've always been the underdog. Always. Growing up in a large family of eight kids, I was the overlooked middle child. One of my four older siblings or three younger ones always seemed to be the center of attention. Never me.

I was a shy and introverted little girl, not comfortable with how I looked or what I had to say. I felt insignificant. I tried to hide my pain by keeping to myself and masking my feelings.

I was an underdog in basketball, too. Playing in college, on U.S. national teams and for more than a decade in the European professional leagues, I took a back seat to others. Even when I became a leading scorer in Europe and one of the top players overseas, I never received much publicity or notice. There were always bigger names around, drawing most of the attention.

My time to shine wasn't in college or on the national teams. I had to play a supporting role to help those teams become successful. I never was the go-to player or what fans and media would consider the star.

But now, playing in the WNBA, my time to shine has finally arrived. I've become the kind of player I always wanted to be and dreamed I could be. During the many long years I spent out of the spotlight, watching other players receive all the honors and recognition, I kept telling myself, "I am not less of a player or less of a person. I am going to continue to work on my game, I am going to grow as a person and I'm going to show everyone who I really am and-wait a minute, hold on-I've got a little bit of personality, too."

I am no longer that timid and shy little girl who grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles, unsure of herself, unsure of her future, not knowing where she was going and without direction or purpose.

That little girl, a true underdog, has become a distant memory. I know what I want. I want to play to the best of my ability and be a leader for my Houston teammates. I want to promote women's basketball and help market the WNBA. I want to provide a better future for my family, especially my nieces and nephews who live with my mother and me in the suburbs of Houston.

I also want to serve as a role model for kids in the inner city who think their lives are hopeless or there's no way out.

If I don't know anything else-and there are a lot of things I don't know-I know where I'm going in life. I am going to succeed and excel. And I would love to bring along with me every single person who is scared or unsure or uncertain of themselves.

If someone feels surrounded by life or trapped in a bad situation, or if they think they can't possibly succeed, I am here to tell that person she or he can escape from that bad situation. Each of us has within ourselves the power to make a better, brighter life.

I know, because I did it.

People never had great expectations for me. Most of the people I knew growing up would give me a million reasons why I shouldn't succeed instead of giving me one reason why I should.

But despite the negativity that surrounded my life in the inner city-the gangs, drugs and violence-I believed in myself. I established goals as a basketball player and a person. I didn't want to prove my doubters wrong as much as I wanted to prove that I was right.

I've noticed that a lot of people get sidetracked worrying about what others say about them. They get hung up worrying about people's opinions of what they can or can't accomplish. They get discouraged by listening to people talk about their supposed shortcomings and limitations.

I learned long ago that I can't control what other people think or say. But I can control what I think and say, and what I do in my life. I can control where I'm headed.

Rather than listening to others, people need to learn to focus on what they can do, what they want to do and how they can go about accomplishing whatever it is they want to accomplish.

That's where I keep my focus: what I want to do and how I'm going to do it.

The success of the Houston Comets and the WNBA has given me the opportunity to make a difference and to have an impact on the lives of our youth. Not only with my nieces and nephews but on the lives of youth in America and internationally. My success in women's basketball has given me the chance to leave my mark on the world in a positive light.

It's also given me a chance, for the first time in my life, to be me. I can say what I mean and mean what I say. It's the real me that has come out since the Houston Comets emerged as back-to-back WNBA champions.

It's not the middle child. It's not the role player. It's not the basketball player overshadowed by her teammates. It's not an underdog-it's the real me. I have taken on responsibility as a WNBA leader, as a daughter and an aunt. I'm making the decisions for my own life. I'm the one who's accountable.

I know what I want to accomplish and where I want to go. When I don't know the answers to the questions I face, I'm not afraid to ask for help. I no longer feel, as I once did, that asking questions makes you less of a person or that it means you're dumb, ignorant or stupid. I've discovered that it's the person who doesn't ask questions who is ignorant, because he or she remains that way.

Two years ago, before the Houston Comets became one of the hottest teams in professional sports, I was just an average, everyday person. I could go anywhere and do anything without being recognized or stopped on the street. I didn't have to worry about marketing people, marketing agreements and contracts. I didn't have to worry about book deals and movie deals. I didn't have to worry about the correct wording in a contract. But I've had to learn all that.

The only way to learn is to not be scared about speaking up when you don't understand something. To ask questions and to not be fooled by someone telling you it's not your responsibility, that an agent or a marketing company will handle things.

It is your responsibility. Everything we do is our own responsibility. What I learned from the example my mother, Mary Cobbs, set for me-besides how to work hard, make sacrifices, trust in the Lord and take responsibility for my actions-is that each of us can do more.

Doing more is one message I take to audiences whenever I'm invited to speak. I used to have to beg people to let me speak at their schools or camps or fund-raising events. Now, after the success of the Houston Comets and the individual recognition I've received, people are begging me to talk.

"You can achieve something more," I say. "You can always get better. You can be a better friend to your friends, a better sister to your brothers, a better daughter to your parents. When you realize you can do more tomorrow than you're doing today, you will get inspired. You'll develop a fire within yourself, a desire to become a better person, a better doctor, lawyer or athlete. You'll have a hunger and thirst for knowledge. Because knowledge is power."

I've had people come up to me after my speeches and tell me they've been inspired. A woman who recently heard me speak at a church in Houston told me afterward that I'd motivated her to go back to college and finish her degree. It's gratifying to think that I'm having a positive impact on some people's lives, that I'm able to make a difference.

There's one other message I try to stress in speeches: Don't put limits on yourself. Reach as high as you can. Keep raising the bar. After spending more than a decade in Europe, I had every reason to come back to the United States and not play at such a high level. I was thirty-four years old when the WNBA started in 1997, an age at which many women basketball players have already turned to coaching or other pursuits.

Many people associated with women's basketball thought my best years were behind me. It would have been easy for me to go along with that line of thinking and say, "Hey, you know what? They're right. I'm not in my prime anymore."

I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't accept that thinking. I've spent a lot of years paying my dues in women's basketball; when the WNBA got under way, it was time to collect.

The number one thing I wanted to do in the WNBA was show everyone I could play basketball at the high level I'd maintained in Europe. I wanted my family and friends, especially my mother, to see how my game has grown and matured since I was the sparkplug sixth man on the USC Lady Trojans NCAA championship teams in the early 1980s.

The past two years have been like a dream fulfilled. Words could never express how it feels to play in front of a sold-out Houston crowd of 16,285 people who worship every move you make and every shot you take. Fans who give you unconditional support.

Words can't explain how it feels to have people chanting in unison, "MVP! MVP! MVP!" Hearing that brought tears to my eyes at the free throw line. It was like a wake-up call to what was happening, because I get so wrapped up in the game I don't realize the magnitude of it all. It's truly awesome.

To see where we've come from and where women's basketball is going and the immense opportunity we now have brings joy to my heart. And some sadness, too, because there are a lot of great women players this opportunity has passed by.

Just to be part of the WNBA is special, but to actually excel and go down in history as the league's first superstar is amazing. It's special to me and my family, and it's even more gratifying because my mother has been part of it.

As many basketball fans already know, Mary Cobbs was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly before the WNBA began its inaugural season. It's been a difficult period for our family, but the success of the Comets and the accolades for her daughter have brought joy to Mother's life and helped her fight in the battle with cancer.

Some WNBA players probably take what the league has going for granted, but I'm not one of them. I've been through the wringer playing basketball. I've had to survive a lot of tough times-like being forced to go abroad to pursue my dream and having to stay overseas so long, in a different culture, away from family and friends.

Circumstances forced me to lose touch with people I grew up with. Those are years and experiences I can never replace.

Since I made all those sacrifices, I'm able to appreciate the WNBA and the opportunities that we have more than most. It's my job now to make sure the next generation of women basketball players, and the generations after it, don't have to go overseas.

That could be an option, certainly, but it would no longer be a necessity. If we handle things right, women basketball players will be able to stay home and live in America and make a living doing something they love to do.

To me, this book is about finding yourself, believing in yourself and awakening to the fact that it's you who determines your future and what you do with your life. You can take control.

I got off to a slow start. I was a true underdog, unsteady and unsure of myself. Once I gained some self-confidence and learned to believe in myself, I began to soar.

I know you can, too. Just follow me.

(c) 1999 by Cynthia Cooper"

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    **

    The story is good; however, the e-book version is loaded with errors. This should not be sold in its current condition. Every page has errors.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    I want

    I super wanna read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2002

    Coop Rulez!

    She Got Game was a pretty good book. It shows how nothing comes easy and you always have to work for it. Being a poor little girl in the dangerous South Central LA, Cooper demonstrates true leadership and devotion to her family and sport. Since her single mom had to work extra hours at several jobs and was later diagnosed with cancer, Cynthia had to step up to help her family. With everything going on it wasn't until high school that Coop realized her talent for the greatest sport ever, basketball. Today she is one of the best to play the game. I enjoyed this book mainly because I play basketball and it motivated me to never quit because that is all she talked about. Cynthia Cooper showed that nothing comes easy even to those who are great. I especially liked the part in the story where Cooper gives a dedication to Kim Perot. It shows that friendship should always be high on your list and also that Cooper was a not only a great player but also person. I recommend this book for all you basketball players or people who just want some motivation. However, you need a good vocabulary to understand parts and be patient enough to hear the same thing quite a few times...Never Give Up and Always try your best. Other than that this book was awesome so read it!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2002

    Raise The Roof For Coop!!

    Cynthia Cooper shows her perseverence into becomming the best basketball player in the W.N.B.A. in this book. She shows inspiration to young athletes, and is an outstanding role modle. Coop is #1!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2000

    This book opened my eyes

    This book really made me realize how important my life really is. i have met Cynthia Cooper more than one time, and just reading her book made me look up to her even more.This book is an insperation to me.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2000

    Gives wonderful inspiration to all readers...

    I carry this book everywhere. It's just that good!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2000

    'She Got Game' is an excellent book for everybody, especially us girls.

    I gave 'She Got Game' 5 stars because for one, she is my favorite basketball player and second, she is my hero. I think that every basketball player should read this book, especially us girls.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2000

    A True Hero

    cooper is a great hero for all ages. this book tells all about her amazing life. if you don't read it your realy missing out!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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