Duncanville Product Tameka Catchings named Basketball Hall of Famer alongside NBA legend Kobe Bryant

By Armando Barry

Some of the most noteworthy athletes of our generation were a part of this year's class of NBA Hall of Fame inductees. Yet no names were more well known than the great, late Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry that featured Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett presented the basketball world with some of the fiercest competitors that we have ever seen in sports. While the big Fundamental, Tim Duncan, is perceived as one of the more docile athletes in the NBA, his five championship rings speak for itself. The collection of NBA legends combined for 11 NBA championships and 4 MVPs, as their stardom shined the most in the first decade of the 2000s. Those NBA Finals featured at least one from the group of Duncan, Bryant, and Garnett, nine out of those ten years. Some of the great women who were also inducted in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame were Coach Kim Mulkey, Swin Cash, and Tamika Catchings. After already leaving her mark forever in north Texas, the University of Tennessee, and the WNBA, Tameka Catchings has been named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for the class of 2020. Like her fellow inductees, she was elected based off of her spectacular accolades on the highest level of competition in the world of basketball. Even more specifically, Catchings gritty display of her basketball skills and battling with her heart on her sleeve throughout her time as a Duncanville High school panther, Lady Vol, and Indiana Fever is what made the WNBA great a no brainer for the committee. However, what many may not know, is how it didn’t come easy. Tameka Catchings was three years old when her parents discovered she had a hearing impairment that resulted in her needing hearing aids, which she described as, "big, clunky, brown boxes,” in both ears. Entering grade school, she was a target of bullying because of her huge hearing aids and speech impediment. One day, on her way home in the third grade, she threw her hearing aids away as far as she could in a field. Her parents couldn’t afford new ones for her, so she had to begin living without them. What came out of this tall grade school student who had become a victim of bullying, due to her hearing aids and lisp, was a love for the game of basketball that she described as an equal playing field for her. She found basketball was easier than the classroom because it didn’t require her to guess what people were saying. Years after her parents’ divorce, Catchings and her mom moved to Duncanville, Texas. She no longer stood out for being different, but for her stardom as the best basketball player to wear a Panther uniform. The Duncanville High School product went on to play at her dream school, the University of Tennessee, where she was coached by the great Pat Summitt. She became a national champion in 1999 and continued blazing her path to nearly unparalleled success in the WNBA, becoming one of the most decorated basketball players of all-time. Speaking for itself, her basketball resume went on and on, but what is even more remarkable is the organization she founded in 2004, called the “Catch the Stars Foundation," which helps disadvantaged youth by providing goal setting programs that promote fitness, literacy, and youth development. After 16 seasons with the Indiana Fever, Tameka Catchings retired from basketball and created a website and YouTube channel where she speaks out on how to be a champion through life tips and wrote an autobiography about how she overcame her hearing loss, separation of family, and difficult injuries during her career. Fighting through the everyday adversity brought upon us is the message that Hall of Fame athlete, Tameka Catchings, stands by, and it is by being a living example of that, she is a Hall of Fame person, as well. You can access Tameka Catchings’ website and YouTube channel on https://www.tamikacatchings.com/

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