Jia Perkins thought her dream of
playing professional basketball was over when she became pregnant
her senior year of college. Forced by her condition to quit playing
halfway through her last college season, Perkins set aside her goal
of playing pro and instead focused on finishing school and
preparing to be a mom.
"I was almost like, well I don't think
I can play any more, so I'm just going to stay in school and get my
degree and figure things out from there," Perkins says. "I didn't
really think about playing any more."
But when it came time, Perkins found
herself drafted by Charlotte in the last round. Her parents offered
to care for her new baby, Aalirah, for three months while Perkins
attempted to realize her dream.
It wasn't easy.
"It's a big transition from college to
pros and when you don't go directly it's harder," Perkins says.
"Because I'd been sitting out for six weeks, it was really
In spite of the hardships, Perkins
played for Charlotte and currently plays for the Chicago Sky.
The 5-foot-8 guard is still challenged
by being a mom and basketball player but says she's fortunate to
have friends and family willing to help out.
Her mom, a teacher in Texas, helps care
for Aalirah during the summer. When Perkins played basketball for a
team in Greece several years ago, her close friend went with her
and cared for Aalirah.
Unfortunately, like many single moms,
Perkins is often left scrambling to fill in childcare gaps,
especially when she travels. In spite of this, she thinks she's got
a great job for being a single parent.
"It's almost like being a housewife.
You practice two hours a day and then you're home," Perkins says.
"And it's a blessing just to have her with me. You have some bad
days but when you come home, she doesn't care. It's time to go
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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