Lisa Leslie Blogs From the Obama Inauguration
Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks is among the greatest and most celebrated players in the history of women's basketball. A two-time WNBA champ, a three-time MVP and four-time Olympic gold-medalist, Leslie remains one of the league's most talented players, even at the age of 36 and after taking off the entire 2007 season for the birth of her first child, Lauren.
Returning for the 2008 season, Leslie helped lead the Sparks to the brink of the WNBA Finals before falling to the San Antonio Silver Stars, earning the WNBA's Defensive Player of the Year award along the way.
But Leslie was inspired by more than motherhood in 2008. She got involved in Barack Obama's campaign for President and followed along excitedly as he won the nomination on Election Day in November. Now she's on her way to Washington, D.C. to see President-to-be Obama sworn in on January 20.
Follow along below as Leslie files periodic reports from the nation's capital.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Having a Ball!
Posted - Jan. 21, 2009, 2:53 p.m. ET
Well, after thawing out a bit and after taking a much needed nap after Tuesday's inauguration festivities, my husband and I prepared to follow our schedule for the evening. We wanted to have dinner at Morton's Steak House then attend one of the two inaugural balls we were invited to: either the American Music Urban Ball or the MTV Ball.
So I laid out my beautiful Carolina Herrera strapless gown -- fitted at the top and poofing out like Cinderella's gown at the bottom. I then laid out my custom-made, black, floor-length coat with fur accents, made by "Elevee" custom clothings, I chose to go to the American Music Urban Ball because Ludacris was performing. Since my husband and I love to dance, we wanted to go where the fun was. As I stood in the mirror deciding how to wear my hair, we got the dreaded call: the American Music Urban Ball was canceled!
"Oh well," I said. Good thing I brought a backup dress. I put on my long and elegant, black Yves Saint Laurent dress and we headed to The Park, a posh nightclub where many of the celebrities came after performing at other balls.
And no, we didn't attend a ball. But my husband and I had a ball! We danced all night and celebrated with friends and people of all races. It was just a beautiful day and night for everyone. As a result of President Obama's chant for change, we knew we were all changed for the better.
God Bless America and thanks for allowing me to share my story.
Lisa Leslie (still seeking to meet President Obama) :)
Posted - Jan. 20, 2009, 6:04 p.m. ET
When my alarm clock went off at 6 a.m. and my husband turned on the television, I thought, "Oh my gosh, we're late," because by then, thousands of people had already begun filling up the mall, the area around the Lincoln Memorial and the subways here in D.C.
We scrambled to get dressed in layer after layer in hopes of not letting the cold beat us. With highs of thirty degrees and a low of 18 forecasted for our five-hour day ahead of walking and standing (in possible snow), we prepared as if our lives depended on it. With two pairs of tights, corduroy jeans, a turtle-neck, sweat shirt, and vest -- oh, and my long coat and Ugg boats, hand warmers and Nike gloves with a hat -- I was ready to survive.
Our Marriott hotel was beautiful and it connected directly to a tunnel that led to the subway. All that meant was that we had about a 30-minute grace period before we met the cold face-to-face.
Believe it or not, this was my first time ever on a subway! We don't do the whole underground stuff in L.A. because of the earthquakes, so I was seriously out of my element. Two trains later, after being packed in like sardines, I got ready to meet the cold with the rest of the energetic crowd.
We walked about a mile down the highway (or freeway, as we call them in L.A.), through another tunnel and onto Second Street with people singing, Lift Every Voice and Sing." We had a pep in our step until we got to the end of the tunnel... only to find that it was the wrong direction. I was too cold to be mad, so Michael and I turned around, walked back a mile, got a ride on pedi-cab which cost $5 per minute. We got off in three minutes, because the driver was sweating profusely. We were too heavy for the driver... especially going uphill. So we hiked the mile back, jumped the median, and exited the highway to First Street where the purple ticket-holders were supposed to enter.
We finally joined a crowd on First Street and stood in a large group that over time became stagnant. Afraid that this was the end of our long journey, I had to think quick or stand there taking pictures with fans for the next four hours. To my surprise, I overheard a man talking to his friend saying the entrance one block over was wide open. As he told some people and scurried off, I said "Babe, let's go." We walked one block over and hope was alive! We walked straight to the entrance without delay and the Capitol Building was in site.
After passing tight security and a stop at the porta potty (I'd never been so happy to see one!), we reached our destination. There were front-row seats and back-row seats and then a whole other group of people that stand. That's where we were. Standing... yet still excited.
I yelled as if I had won something: "Yes We Can!"
In actuality, we all felt like winners. It was such a melting pot of people. They were all so kind, polite and from all walks of life. People in furs from head to toe. Others in Barack Obama gear bought right off the corners from street peddlers and others outfitted in whatever they could find to keep warm. Some with matching Barack Obama scarves and hats and some in full head-to-toe ski gear looking like they were fresh off the slopes. There were even children and babies in the crowd. (Now as a mom, I must admit I said over and over, "I don't know why they would bring that baby out here!")
But as I looked around, it was just beautiful to see our nation together no matter what color or creed. We were together on one accord. Even when the crowd sang to former President Bush, " Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!" it may have been a sad moment for the former President, but it was within that moment the crowd felt the change that was soon to come.
In fact, once Obama hit the stage, we felt a sense of security and hope for our country. It became so silent as we all hung on his every word. A whole nation silenced and ready to volunteer to make our country a better place.
As an African-American woman, it feels liberating to see Barack Obama as our new President. African-Americans have often times felt like a distant cousin in America and now we feel like immediate family with a seat at the table! With that said, I hope that our African-American communities will use this as inspiration to volunteer and help each other.
As for me, even after traveling over 2,500 miles and
walking five more, I feel honored and changed forever to have been a part of
Lisa Leslie (still seeking to meet President Barack Obama) :)
A Presidential Address in the Nation's
Posted - Jan. 19, 2009, 8:37 p.m. PT
I'm sitting on the plane, waiting to leave L.A. and I'm so excited about this journey to D.C. I feel like a kid on the way to meet her idol.
But, you know, this is serious business... especially when you think about the job that President-to-be Obama has ahead of him. Not to forget the state of our country... our country is in the worst financial shape ofmy lifetime, maybe ever.
Knowing all that, though, I still feel happy, excited, even liberated to have this opportunity. And all thanks go to my Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
President Obama has truly inspired me to want to volunteer and give more of myself to help others. This is the first time that I have followed a Presidential campaign so closely and would regularly rush home to see the debates. I really feel like I have made this journey with President Obama.
And with that said, I have an awesome opportunity to meet our new president... OK, hopefully.
I'm sure I will stick out in the crowd. I just hope he's a fan of the Los Angeles Sparks and maybe, just maybe, he might know my name. You see, it doesn't matter who you are... even celebrities are hopeful of meeting the people who inspire them. And in the same way that a bunch of other blessed Americans in the massive crowd in Washington, D.C. tomorrow will be, I am hopeful of getting the opportunity to say I met President Obama on the day of his Inauguration!
Lisa Leslie (seeking to meet President Obama) :)
Lisa Leslie Goes to Washington
Posted - Jan. 16, 2009, 2 p.m. ET
This from the Los Angeles Times:
Lisa Leslie isn't awed by many things, not after winning four Olympic basketball gold medals, three WNBA most valuable player awards and two league titles.
But she's admittedly thrilled to have the chance to witness Barack Obama's inauguration Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and to attend at least one inaugural ball. She also hopes to meet the new chief executive and his wife, Michelle.
"It's an exciting time in our country. I think this will be a great opportunity to share with our children, grandchildren and their children's children, to say that we were there when our president was inaugurated," said Leslie, who will spend three days in the capital with her husband, Michael Lockwood.
"I think it also shows where our country is. I think our country is ready for change and movement, and I'm looking forward to Barack really inspiring so many people to want to help and volunteer. I feel like this is really a good time for us, as role models to other people, for them to see us there and showing support."
Read the entire L.A. Times story here.