WILMINGTON – The argument for or against professional athletes being role models to the youth of today’s society has many different viewpoints, but when talking about Laney High School alum Tamera Young, she’s been able to utilize her platform as a veteran in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to make an impact in the two communities she calls home.
With the Summer Olympics about to get underway in Brazil, the WNBA regular season will take a back seat for the next few weeks as Team USA looks to earn a gold medal in women’s basketball. Young is the longest-tenured member of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. The former standout for James Madison University is returning home to the Port City this week to host the second annual Kill Cancer 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. The event is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the Martin Luther King Junior Center on South 8th Street in Wilmington. The tournament is open to anyone 18 and up.
“People are always watching when you’re a pro athlete; whether you want to be a role model or not, you are,” Young said. “People want to know that you’re still human and the interaction with the community is important to me. When I was growing up, I wasn’t able to have that interaction with some of my favorite players and that’s one thing I want to do, is to be better.”
Young has once again teamed up with Kris Clark, a former New Hanover High School standout and pro-baller, to put on the charity competition. Both Young and Clark lost parents to cancer. While the tournament is free to enter, they’re asking for donations to cancer research, which will benefit the American Cancer Society.
“The tournament is something Kris and I talked about for awhile to do something back at home and give back,” Young added. “Basketball is what we did growing up at home and at the MLK Center, so we thought it would be a great place to host it there. Last year, we had eight teams that signed up, but we did it kind of last minute. This year, we had time to plan and looking for a bigger turnout.”
Chicago Sky staff writer Sean Gantwerker caught up with Young leading up to her eighth season as a pro following a profile she wrote for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) magazine, where she outlined her philosophy deep rooted in faith, compassion and empathy.
“I’m living to inspire others to follow their dreams and let God direct their paths,” Young said.
Since joining the WNBA, Young has averaged 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game between two teams. She has traveled to play in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Israel and Turkey and, even after a rigorous off season of basketball and international travel this past year, Young continued to use her downtime to give back to the Chicago-area community.
“Being in Chicago this offseason, doing community service throughout different events for the Sky, it’s great to just give back,” Young said. “A lot of the events I did I was interacting with kids and giving them hope that they can achieve their dreams. It made me feel good to see that.”
Young’s busy schedule over the past 12 months included a host of community service events, including leading youth basketball clinics and workshops, lacing up in a charity celebrity game in February that raised funds for three non-profit organizations, joining her teammates at Guilford High School in April to help run a youth camp along with headlining a Culinary Kids event at Resurrection High School in March.
While some athletes choose to stay out of the spotlight during their playing years when not on the floor or field, Young has utilized her avenue to make a positive influence on others.