Interview with Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee was honored by the Phoenix Mercury as this year's Woman of Inspiration. via teamusa.org

At their game on September the 5th, the Phoenix Mercury named six time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee as their Woman of Inspiration for 2009. Joyner-Kersee, who was named by Sport's Illustrated as the greatest female athlete of the 20th century, has been helping kids in the East St. Louis area since 2000.

The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center offers a variety of educational and recreational activities for youth and adults including: after-school tutoring, youth sports leagues, nutrition and health education, fitness and meals for seniors, as well as other important community related programs.

Jackie addressed a group of about 75 Mercury fans before the game in a private gathering and then spoke to the crowd at half-time. I talked briefly with Joyner-Kersee before the game.

"I think it is so important for women of this generation to understand the history, the history of where sport has come from and how it's grown and the difference that the generation today can make in the lives of the generations that will come after them," explained Jackie about her message of responsibility.

Joyner-Kersee, a former basketball player herself at UCLA and then later professionally for Richmond in ABL, also spoke with the Mercury players and provided this guidance, "The message I try to get across to them is to continue to work hard and not take anything for granted. Be the best that you can be and always be willing to give a helping hand to someone else."

She went on to talk about how playing a team sport like basketball can teach children and young players about understanding their roles in life and how to be accountable in what they do.

While Jackie hadn't spoken to Diana Taurasi about her off the court set-back this year she offered this, "I just think that she's a leader and it's unfortunate but still she found a way to bounce back and focus on the positive and not to make this be the period of her life. It's just a matter of her being able to talk to young people and continue to do what she does really well....We like heroes and we also like to tear them down and sometimes you need that support."

I have been fortunate to meet and interview many great athletes ranging from my childhood heroes Walter Davis and Alvan Adams to any number of young players that may or may not be playing pro ball in a few years, to almost all of the greatest players in the NBA and WNBA today.

What strikes me about the greats is just how normal they are and yet at the same time how obvious it is that they function on another level from the rest of us. Jackie Joyner-Kersee is one of those people.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bright Side Of The Sun

You must be a member of Bright Side Of The Sun to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bright Side Of The Sun. You should read them.

Join Bright Side Of The Sun

You must be a member of Bright Side Of The Sun to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bright Side Of The Sun. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker