Erica Wheeler, 28, is a profesional basketball player who plays for Eurocup champion Orenburg and Indiana Fever. She was named MVP of 2019 All-Star Game and now she tells her own story in KiaenZona

For someone like me who came from an aggressive and tough environment, playing the sport since childhood was something like a scape. Football, Athletics, Baseball, Softball… every sport helped me to channel my energy fighting with boys because I was… a little rough.

Then, basketball appeared in my life. A sport that allowed me to express myself and fighting by channeling my aggressiveness and, at the same time, staying away from the problems and violence of the streets.

Everything seemed fine until we lost my mother. She was my best friend and an inspiration to me and my sisters. He always had the answer we needed. Not having her made me lose all hope and passion for life. But thanks GOD, even though my pain and grief, I still had a choice to keep making my mother proud. I played again because she enjoyed watching me play. It took me some time to return to what I love and to basketball. But with the help of prayer, family, friends and coaches, today I am here sharing my story with the readers of KIA EN ZONA.

I think basketball saved my life twice. First, it kept me busy, away from my friends in the neighborhood and then near the memory of my mother. I played in countries like Brazil, Spain or Russia where I won championships. Then I arrived at the WNBA and, after a hard road, I was the MVP of the last AllStar last summer – something that a non-drafted player had never achieved – the same year that I had been chosen MVP of the Eurocup.

I don’t know if I can express that feeling in words. It’s one of those moments when you work so hard all your career and when you’re in it, it just makes you say: «That’s why I’ve been working hard day and night» And of course I wanted to dedicate it to my mother because I know she is looking at me from heaven.

THE WAY FOR EUROPE … AND VICTOR LAPEÑA

Playing in Europe helped me grow and reach a different level because American and European basketball has the same concept, but the style and rules are a bit different. Being able to interpret two different styles helps me read the game better.

In addition, I met your Victor Lapeña, one of the best coaches I played for. Just as each important game approached, I was challenged to take my game to another level and, as a player, I appreciate it a lot because that means that he sees something in me that helped me to get out and that, without a doubt, has helped me to reach until here and continue enjoying basketball day by day becoming a more complete player.