What a full circle moment!
The place where the basketball legend first learned to play is now being renamed in her honor.
Essence Carson is a 13-year WNBA veteran; she’s an All-Star and World Champion and was the 7th pick in 2008, drafted by the New York Liberty. Later, she joined the Los Angeles Sparks and won a championship in 2016. She’s also played overseas in Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Spain and France. Since transitioning from basketball, she now works as a Senior Manager of Label Relations at Motown Records.
Carson graduated from Rutgers University where she carried out a successful career. At Rutgers, Carson was ranked 12th on the school’s all-time rebounding list and 17th on the all-time scoring list. For three straight seasons, she was named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year before being inducted into Rutgers Hall of Fame. She had the opportunity to play shooting guard and small forward under a Black woman that did big things in the basketball world; Coach C. Vivian Stringer, who recently retired after a 50-year-career and made history in the process by becoming the first African American college basketball coach to win 1,000 games, coached Carson. Together they won two Big East titles within Carson’s first two years of playing.
Carson attended the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex for primary school and the Rosa Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts for high school, both a part of Paterson Public Schools district which is where her illustrious career started. Now, the school district is honoring the athlete for her contributions to sports and the community by renaming the elementary school gymnasium after her.
Carson spoke on the honor stating, “When I was a young girl, I just wanted to be good. I just wanted to have an opportunity. People outside this city sometimes make you feel like this is the only place where we belong and that we can’t go anywhere else and that there is no upward movement. My first goal was to just go to college. I can’t tell you how surreal this feels. I thank Paterson for being my home.”
The Superintendent of the school district Eileen Shafer also shared a few words on the occasion saying, “Carson has demonstrated the value of teamwork and overcoming challenges and showed that no matter how far we go in life, you can always come home.”
Her hometown has been cheering for her every step of the way, showing her a tremendous amount of love by bestowing her the key to the city in 2016 and deeming November 15th Essence Carson Day!
To top it all off, she celebrated the gymnasium renaming surrounded by friends, family, former teachers and coaches.
Congratulations, Ms. Carson!
Photo: Gabriella Dragone