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Game Changer: A'ja Wilson

Written by Anna Intartaglia

“Queen of Mediocre” is not a title I, or many others, would associate with two time WNBA champion, two time Most Valuable Player (MVP), and Olympian A’ja Wilson. However, in her latest book, Dear Black Girls: How to Be True to You, Wilson intriguingly adopts this unexpected title for herself.

So how could a player and person of Wilson’s caliber refer to herself in that way? 

Wilson responds to that question in an interview on The View with, “I wasn’t always [a champion]. In the book I tell [my] story so that young people know that you don’t come out of the womb perfect. You have times where you are going to face adversity, but you can always get to where you want to get to. You learn yourself and learn to love yourself, and that’s how I went from mediocre to wanting to be great.”

Wilson takes that narrative into her book, by being true to herself, she accepts that has not always been an MVP, or champion. She has faced her fair share of struggles and has learned and grown throughout her journey. By accepting that and continuing to move forward it has allowed her to remain true to all aspects of herself. 

In addition to her powerful message of self-love and growth, her book adopts a diary/journal writing style. This choice was influenced by her dyslexia, because it is easier for her to read books written in a more casual and personal format than chapter style books. 

Wilson was diagnosed with dyslexia during her sophomore year of high school, and the accomplishment of becoming an author after spending the majority of her school years hating to read is not lost on her. 

Her book is just her latest project advocating for those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. She also founded the A’ja Wilson Foundation which works to change and overcome the stigma of dyslexia, putting an end to bullying. Through the foundation, Wilson provides resources and opportunities to individuals with learning disabilities to empower and foster their success. In March, Wilson will also host an “Unapologetic Girls Summit” in Las Vegas intertwining basketball and confidence/self esteem workshops for middle school female basketball players.

From gender pay disparities, to racial inequalities, to mental health and performance pressures, Wilson is open to being vulnerable and willing to discuss it all. Her willingness to lead and enhance these conversations is a testament to her advocacy for the variety of causes that she supports. 

Her commitment to advocacy sparked after a tweet of hers went viral, speaking out regarding the gender pay gap between the NBA and WNBA players. Her tweet generated a ton of buzz online, and helped Wilson recognize her platform and voice, and guided her to using those tools for advocacy.

“I found my voice because I felt like I could really use my platform, and knew that people were listening and encouraging me to continue to speak out on things that I believe in and that I live…” said Wilson in an interview on The View. “We have to speak up for what we believe in… because a lot of people don’t see me on a platform like this, I always say ‘if you can see her you can be her’ because representation matters. We have to be seen in these spaces, getting a seat at the table. So [tweeting] that as a young rookie, it opened up a whole other door for me where I was like ‘wait, people are listening to me, so let me talk a little something since I have their attention.”

And with her platform and voice, Wilson has, and will continue to, inspire many generations of athletes to come. 

In the words of her legendary college basketball coach Dawn Staley, “to the best basketball player in the world, to being on the list of best sellers. Thank you for giving us Black excellence, A’ja Wilson style.”



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