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Interview: Diamond DeShields’ forward thinking stays away from negativity

Heroic, humble and humane can best describe Diamond DeShields spirit. The Year 5 Professional, All Star, and Champion has become an important presence in the sport and is known for her energetic style of play and vibrant sports.

Since she started in 2018 with Chicago Sky, she has been living up to her own special traits. She showed what she was made of when she formed the All-Rookie that year. In 2019, she not only made the All-Star Team, but was the Skill Challenge Champion and made her second All-WNBA Team. Then in 2021, she helped Sky achieve her great title.

Last year, the DeShields transferred her talents to Phoenix, taking on a key role, playing alongside Diana Taurisi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Tina Charles at a really tough time for one of the league’s original teams. The notable absence of Britney Greiner due to her illegal detention in Russia was felt throughout the year. As a result, the void had to be filled and DeShields helped close it when necessary. Even among these notables, he wasn’t supposed to be overwhelmed. She averaged 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and one steal and was part of the team that reached the playoffs as the eighth seed before losing to eventual champion Las Vegas Ice.

The most amazing feat was that DeSheilds was able to step back into the pitch period. In December of 2019, I sustained a back injury while playing abroad in Turkey. An MRI will reveal that she has a grapefruit-sized tumor in her spine, which poses a risk of permanent paralysis. In other words, there was a chance that she would never be able to walk again let alone play basketball.

After surgery to remove the tumor, she experienced involuntary spasms that made her lose control of her ability to feel and move her body. She endured arduous months of rehab, during which she had to learn how to walk again with an uncertain future ahead of her. All while keeping her condition out of the public eye.

Yet she remained determined to conquer and did whatever it took to regain control of her own body and destiny. She is finally back on the field for the 2020 season in Bradenton, Florida. She persevered as best she could, playing 13 games and averaging 6.8 points in 17.2 minutes. But she injured her quadriceps during a game on August 21 and missed the rest of the season.

She is back to taking care of her body and during the 2021 season she is back to her old self. The 11 points per game and 26 minutes on average were inspiring.

In May of 2022, right at the start of the season, she submitted her story to ESPNoutside the lines. Later in July, she was nominated for an ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete of the Year.

Talk to DeShields recently swish call About her remarkable journey, her transition from Chicago to Phoenix, and how others can learn from her exceptional example. Here is that interview:

Zachary Dreyfus: Given all you had to beat, what does it mean for you to play this season and try for Team USA in the Basketball World Cup?

Diamond DeShields: It’s been really cool to get through this season and be healthy. This was the biggest achievement for me. As much as I’m here with Team USA, it’s always an honor.

ZD: I read that you said playing for Team USA was a dream come true, why is that?

Dr.: As a young kid, you strive to be on the podium at the Olympics first, but the World Cup is the first step to getting there. Just being a member of the national team is something we all strive to achieve. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid.

ZD: With all the talent on this team, what do you hope to contribute to?

Dr.: Just being myself. Speed, sports and energy. I really see that I contribute more in those aspects as far as rhythm, and play a fast paced style of the game, which is what Cheryl asked of us. Also just building that chemistry off the field being someone who’s just kidding and having fun with Australia.

ZD: During this season, what was the transition from Chicago to Phoenix like like?

DD: It was different. Obviously, two completely different locations in terms of climate and just the organizations themselves, are going from one franchise that wasn’t NBA affiliated with another. The resources we had in Phoenix weren’t necessarily located in Chicago. Lots of things were different but it wasn’t a difficult transition.

ZD: What do you wish others could learn from you in terms of overcoming amazing difficulties?

DD: I think the lesson is that life happens to everyone. No matter what you’re going through and no matter how bad you think, there’s always life at the end of the tunnel. There are always opportunities to grow and cherish every moment you have because it truly is precious.

ZD: Where does your flexibility come from?

Dr.: I think there is a lot of life that I want to live. So when there’s an obstacle in my way or something that feels like it’s pulling me in the opposite direction, I just try to keep my vision ahead and all the things I want to do with my life. There are more possibilities in this direction than anything holding me back.


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