INSPIRE EMPOWER ENGAGE

THE NEW GIRL

Go beyond game stats and highlights — the WNBA's Sweetheart from South Carolina is here to tell her story.

THE Beginning

Take an insightful look into how it all began and the profound influences that made A'ja who she is today.

THE NEXT LEVEL

From Columbia to Las Vegas, Number 22's domination spans from coast to coast, and she's just getting started.

THE ROLE MODEL

In addition to being a superstar on the professional stage, A'ja remains true to her Columbia community.

FAMILY

My family means the world to me. They have been the backbone of my support system that has carried me through the good and the bad. I am in the position I am today, blessed with success, health, and a platform to impact the world in a positive way because of my family and the incredible sacrifices they made. 

I have the good fortune of a mother and father who were able to travel all over the world to be at my side and make sure that I knew, no matter the outcome, I was supported. They taught me to have faith in God and to keep him first in my life. Additionally, as a child growing up in the Hopkins/Columbia community, I always felt surrounded by hard-working, dedicated and inspiring people who have paved the way and continue to set positive examples for young people like me.

THE PEARLS

My grandmother, Hattie Rakes, gave me my first set of genuine cultured pearls in middle school, around the age of 13. It was during a time in my life when I was dealing with self-esteem issues. I was a tall, lanky, freckle-faced teenager trying to understand where I fit. My grandmother always had a way to make me feel good about myself: through talks, walks, and tough love. When she gave me the pearls, she said to me, "Pretty girls wear pearls." Since that day, I have always worn pearls in some way, whether it be earrings, necklaces, bracelets and sometimes on my clothes. I had a bond with my grandmother that was so special and it’s difficult to capture in words exactly how much she meant to me. She was my confidant, my friend, my ice cream eating buddy. Now, I wear pearls in remembrance of her. She passed away October 21, 2016, and I miss her every day. She was, and continues to be, my SHERO!

 

 

 

 

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA CAREER  

Staying home in Columbia to play for Coach Dawn Staley was the best decision that I could have ever made in my collegiate career.  Though I didn’t realize it at the time, Coach Staley and I bonded the first moment we met.  She saw something in me that I didn't see in myself and she was able to coax it out. I knew that she had accomplished everything that I wanted to do in my basketball career.  So, I thought to myself, "Who better to show me how it’s done than someone who has already done it." Being a part of the team that brought a National Championship to the state of South Carolina was a goal of mine when I signed with the University of South Carolina. I didn't know when it would happen but I knew that if I stayed the course and listened to Coach Staley, it could be done. 

AND WE DID IT!!

 accolades

  • 2018 USA Today Player of the Year 

  • 3 X SEC Player of the Year

  • 2018 Naismith Award Winner

  • 2018 AP Player of the Year

  • 2018 Wooden Award Winner

  • 3 X AP All American 

  • 2018 Collegiate Women's Sports Award Winner, Honda Cup

  • 2018 South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, Special Achievement Award

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA STATUE DEDICATION 

There I was, sitting in my chair at my graduation ceremony when it happened: President Pastides announced that the University was going to build a statue in my honor.  WOW. I was absolutely blown away.  I am forever grateful that they feel I am worthy of such an honor and it means so much to know that for years to come, people from Columbia might see my image and be inspired to believe in their dreams too. 

The University of South Carolina welcomes the opportunity to establish a statue in honor of A’ja Wilson’s tremendous achievements. She is the greatest Gamecock Women’s Basketball player of all time, a National Champion, and the consensus Women’s National Player of the Year. We greatly anticipate welcoming A’ja back for a dedication ceremony at Colonial Life Arena.

— University President Dr. Harris Pastides

 the draft

TEAMMATES

I have been very fortunate to have great teammates throughout my basketball career from grade school to the professional level. My teammates are like sisters to me.  I have been coached by some of the best coaches in the world and in many ways, my teammates have been coaches to me as well. They have encouraged me to stay focused and to be audacious in my play. When things get tough, it’s their belief in me, my belief in them, and the work we have put in together that elevates my game. 

Today, my teammates include everyone in the Las Vegas Aces family — MGM, the coaches, our staff, and definitely the fans. From the moment I heard my name called at the Draft, they have embraced me, my family, and my South Carolina community. They have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to establishing the Aces as THE gold standard. If you haven’t been to a game — it’s time. I promise you’ll want to come back. 

becoming a role model

I am fortunate to have been loved, supported and inspired by incredible role models from different walks of life, principally, my community and my family. My parents and grandparents have been the most influential in my journey, and their positive impact is immeasurable. They continue to show me that through hard work and prayer, any task can be completed and any dream realized.

To be considered a role model is a privilege, but in many ways, a surprise. It was not an honor I chose - it chose me. I look forward to continuing to walk in my purpose and positively impact lives, one smile a time.

 

 

The A'ja Wilson Foundation

Founded by A’ja and her parents, Eva and Roscoe, the A’ja Wilson Foundation is dedicated to inspiring people to embrace what makes them unique by advocating for children with dyslexia and supporting their families, and by investing in solutions to bullying.​

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