Most Valuable Mom: Candace Parker on What it Means to be a Mom (and Daughter) in the WNBA

Candace Parker, two-time WNBA MVP, hasn’t really had to adjust to life as a mother in the WNBA because that’s almost all she’s known since joining the league in 2008.

Parker became a mother in 2009 when her daughter Lailaa was born in May. She missed only the first eight games of the 2009 WNBA season and was back on the court a month and a half after giving birth. But then, of course, there was the balancing act of actually being a mother and a professional athlete.

“I was able to be a mom at a young age so that helped with the transitions and the balancing act,” said Parker over the phone from the hubbub of her family room. “Obviously my husband was great and my mom…especially when I’m in season.”

Parker married Duke University basketball star and former NBA player Sheldon Williams (who now plays professionally overseas in China) in 2008. Though the two are together as much as possible, it’s particularly hard when Candace is also overseas in Russia.

“When I first came [to Russia] I had a six-month-old,” Parker told NBAE last year, “so it was just survival mode, you know, I was a new mom in a new place. My first time coming here I had like 10 bags because I wasn’t sure if they had diapers here.”

Sure enough they did have diapers in Russia and Parker and her daughter began to adjust to the culture.

“Lailla’s a great kid,” she said of her soon-to-be five-year-old daughter. “She’s ahead of her years. She loves Russia; she loves the snow and she loves her school there.”

Motherhood isn't all that easy back in the States either.

“The hardest part about being a mom is the balancing act,” Parker reiterated. “It really is a full-time job, but my mom helps out during the [WNBA] season, you know, when you want to get your pre-game nap in.”

Candace has always been close with her mom Sara.

“You know, it’s funny,” she said when asked if she was at all like her mother, “we spend a lot of time together and I start to see a lot of the things she used to tell me… she talks a lot about my facial expressions and how they are like hers.”

And for Candace that’s the best part of being a mom – witnessing little moments like that with her own daughter. “I love getting to see life through her eyes and [being present] for just the different steps and moments that she has. Recently she learned how to ride a bike.”

But whether or not that’s any indication Lailaa will be an athlete?

“She certainly has all the attributes,” Parker laughed. “But whatever she’s interested in doing I’ll definitely support her. Whatever she puts her mind to, she’ll be good at it.”

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