Edwards, Teresa (1964—)

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Edwards, Teresa (1964—)

African-American basketball player . Born on July 19, 1964, in Cairo, Georgia; only daughter and one of five children of Mildred Edwards; graduated from Cairo High School, 1982; attended the University of Georgia.

Selected championships and honors:

(team) three gold medals, Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1996), two gold medals, World Championships (1986 and 1990), bronze medal, World Championships (1984), gold medal, Pan American Games (1987), two gold medals, Goodwill Games (1986 and 1990), bronze medal, Pan American Games (1991), bronze medal Olympic Games (1992); (individual) two-time All-American (1985 and 1986), two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (1987 and 1990).

Called "the Michael Jordan of women's basketball," Teresa Edwards has had a professional career that rivals her male counterparts. A member of the gold-medal U.S. teams at the 1984, 1988, and 1996 Olympics, and a bronze medalist at the 1992 Olympics, Edwards is the first American, man or woman, to play basketball in four consecutive Olympic Games. During the 1990s, the 5'11" guard also played professionally in Italy and Japan, where she earned upwards of $200,000 a year as a starter for the Nagoya, Japan, team sponsored by Mitsubishi.

Edwards grew up in a single-parent home in Cairo, Georgia, the only girl among four boys. Although her mother did not approve of women playing sports, Teresa was a regular in the sand-lot baseball, football, and basketball games with the locals. She played in her first structured basketball program in seventh grade and progressed rapidly through the ranks. After achieving high school All-American, she attended the University of Georgia on an athletic scholarship, where she was All-American in 1985 and 1986. While still in college, she also played on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, bringing home a gold medal.

Edwards left college just short of her degree requirements to play professionally overseas. She has admitted that the long seasons away were difficult, and she was frequently lonely and homesick. "But, my god, if it hadn't been for the professional leagues, my best years as a player would have been wasted," she says. "I got so much better after college." Indeed, she did. In addition to her performance on the Olympic teams, she also played on gold medal teams in the U.S. World Championship, the Pan American Games, and the Goodwill Games.

Edwards went on to play for the American Basketball League's Atlanta Glory. Despite her fame, friends claim that Edwards has remained down-to-earth and accessible. While her own lifestyle is modest, she has used her money to help out her younger brothers with college and to buy a house for her mother. In 1989, she finished the requirements to earn her bachelor's degree in recreation, and when not traveling she lives near her hometown of Cairo, Georgia, where friends and neighbors named a street in her honor. "Values are important to her," says Theresa Grentz , the coach of the 1992 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team. "Her humility and the simplicity of her life made her very special to be around."

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