Former WNBA player, singer, model, actress
In 1997, after 12 years of playing professional basketball abroad, Kym Hampton was chosen as an “elite draft” for the New York Liberty basketball team, the first women’s professional team in the U.S. Although she retired from basketball in 2000, she continues to follow her dreams, tapping into the passions she’s held since childhood.
Here’s what I learned from Kym: focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. It’s ok to have many passions, not just one, and it’s important to know what they are. Be grateful for what you have – and your life will expand.
Kym is spreading the word, and the word today is “game on.”
My interest in sports wasn’t tweaked until I was about 11 or 12 and then I started playing basketball when I was 14. Secretly I always wanted to be a singer or a famous actress so I became a theatre major in college, but I was very shy. Being this tall goofy looking girl, I grew up thinking I wasn’t good enough. But when I got immersed in basketball, my confidence grew. At Arizona State, I was on an athletic scholarship and basketball was already a big part of my life but I didn’t aspire to be professional because it was non-existent. In my junior year I got the opportunity to go to Taiwan. From that point on I realized I could play professionally and for the next 12 years I lived in Japan, France, Italy and Spain playing professional basketball.
No Place Like Home
Living in Europe was a wonderful opportunity, but home is home. Because I was a good player I was an elite draft of the original WNBA, which meant I didn’t have to try out. Here, it was an opportunity for the big time, to finally play in front of family and friends. I loved the opportunity of playing in New York – it’s such a great city. Here it was the pros… I finally felt like I arrived.
Pioneering… And Scoring
I knew eventually the U.S. would have a professional team, and it’s been a complete blessing to be a part of it. At the very first game, for me to be in the center circle and “jump off” for the very first time was an incredible experience. To score the first two points in New York Liberty’s history was amazing.
Doubt Begets Doubt
My biggest obstacle was self-doubt. I went through phases where I had a lot of confidence – no one was stopping me when I was in that zone. But there were times I had a bad game and I played into it. Whenever I’ve doubted myself, or my talents, looking back, I see that I was sabotaging myself.
To Sing At Madison Square Garden
I know I’ve got it on the court, but sometimes I doubt myself when it comes to singing. But it’s not that serious. I sing at every last home game of the season, a tradition I’m proud to be a part of, and I also sing for the Knicks. It’s a wonderful feeling, but scary, too. You have to be yourself. You can’t get caught up. Whether you’re in sports, or you’re a singer, it comes to you, the gifts that you have. We tend to question ourselves. Just do it. Do what you’ve been given to do.
Talent Has Many Faces
Theatre, singing and basketball are all interrelated for me. Recognizing that you’ve been given gifts and talents – I look at it as sharing. We over think things. We think we have to be perfect. Share your gifts. Share what you have. We all have different gifts. No matter what you do, no matter where you’re doing it – it’s about sharing a part of yourself, your talents.
One day at the beginning of the 2000 season I walked into training camp and my knee was swollen. After getting an MRI and exploratory surgery, that’s when I had to stop playing basketball. The first 3-4 years were hard, but I knew I was blessed to have a long career. Now I’m doing a lot of different things. I am an ambassador for New York Liberty and the Knicks, and I continue to be a part of the NBA and WNBA. I have speaking engagements. I’ve done modeling, singing and acting. Life has truly been great and there’s more I want to do.
The most important thing I do every day is immediately give thanks as soon as I open my eyes. I say thank you that I can see, that I can hear, that I am pain free – all the things that we can take for granted. It’s important to be grateful for where you are and what you have right now. I remind myself that I am a child of God and I was placed here to do wonderful things. I am here to be special. I am here to let my light shine. I also pray and give thanks. I focus on what I have, not what I don’t have. That’s been my focal point and things have started to turn around for me.
It’s All In Your Head… And That’s A Good Thing.
My own lesson is to relax and do your part by being honest with yourself. Once you find something you’re passionate about, do your part. Life is mostly mental. We have ideas planted in us – from parents, teachers, friends – and the things we choose to believe about ourselves impact us. Stop with the negative self-talk. Stop with the self-doubting and enjoy who and where you are. Sometimes we need to revisit our thoughts and ask, why am I allowing this in my life? Everything is mental. We have to check ourselves. When you don’t feel good you have to face it. When you start to question yourself you’ll get answers. We can be better if we choose to be better. When you start to treat yourself better it shows up in all areas of your life. Buy the best stuff for yourself. The way you treat yourself invites people to treat yourself the same way.
This Featured Lady was profiled by Tracey Ceurvels, a freelance writer in New York City.