New 9 for IX: Hannah Storm examines the ups and downs of Sheryl Swoopes

Sheryl Swoopes is the focus on tonight’s documentary on ESPN at 8 p.m.

The rundown from ESPN:

Sheryl Swoopes has famously been labeled as the female Michael Jordan, but that’s only part of the story.

On the court, she was nearly as dominant as Jordan, winning a national championship with Texas Tech, three Olympic gold medals, three MVP awards and four consecutive championships with the Houston Comets of the WNBA, the league she helped start. She even had a Nike shoe named after her, the Air Swoopes. Off the court, she has had a life full of transitions. She gave birth to her son, Jordan, during the inaugural season of the WNBA. Later, she divorced her high school sweetheart and became the highest-profile athlete in her sport to acknowledge she was gay.

She has struggled with love, money and personal identity, but has never lost her spirit. In this portrait, you will meet someone who is not your everyday superstar, a woman who has defied a multitude of labels.

Storm on the film:

I had just had my first child when NBC gave me a daunting assignment: first ever play-by-play voice of the newly established WNBA. It required a summer of travel and untold hours of preparation, developing a new broadcast skill … a stressful task for a new mother. Little could I have imagined that the league’s biggest star was about to undergo a similar journey.

Sheryl Swoopes was counted upon to launch the fledgling WNBA. She became the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her, the “Air Swoopes” under the Jordan brand. A superstar who led Texas Tech to a national championship, Swoopes became pregnant before the start of the season. When she returned for the final one-third of the season to play for my hometown team, the Houston Comets, we had an immediate connection, as young mothers trying to find our way in uncharted waters. Swoopes delivered the first of a remarkable four WNBA championships for the Comets. As the confetti rained down at the Houston Summit in that first August, I felt an inexorable sense of pride in Sheryl, in my city and in myself. It was that connection with Sheryl that inspired me to tell her story.

I feel honored that Sheryl has entrusted her story to me, as it has been largely untold in her voice. It’s a rich story indeed, punctuated with an honesty that few public figures possess.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *