Late Jamaican basketballer Simone Edwards has been hailed as the “perfect example” of an individual who did not allow her humble beginnings to prevent her from attaining success.
Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, who was speaking at Edwards’ funeral at the University of Technology (UTech) in St Andrew on Wednesday (March 15), said that, in addition to standing tall physically, the former WNBA star reached “amazing heights” in the sport in Jamaica, and on the international scene.
“Not only was she a tower of strength on the basketball courts in Europe, Israel, and the United States, she also sought to strengthen, in many ways, those around her. She was a kind and giving person,” Grange said.
The minister said she kept in close contact with Edwards during her illness, and noted that she cherished the late athlete’s book, Unstoppable: A Memoir of Adversity, Perseverance and Triumph.
Edwards was a member of the inaugural Seattle Storm team, based in Washington and which competes in the United States (US) Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) league.
She held the distinction of being the first Jamaican and Caribbean player to take part in the WNBA, and won the league championship with the Storm in 2004.
Prior to this, she gained prominence representing teams in Italy, Hungary, Spain and Israel.
Under her captaincy, Jamaica’s women won the Caribbean Basketball Tournament for the first time in 2014.
Edwards also coached Jamaica’s women’s basketball team, served as an assistant coach at Radford University in 2007, and assistant coach at George Mason University from 2008 to 2011.
She founded the Simone4Children Foundation, which provides educational support, including school supplies, social skills, scholarships, financial assistance, clothing, and mentoring.
In 2017, she was bestowed with membership in the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer (OD) by the Government of Jamaica.
“Simone Edwards was a star player. But a huge part of her legacy will be her willingness to help with the advancement of others. She was a patriot who accomplished much, but never forgot her homeland… her roots. She has been quoted as saying that, after all, she is ‘just a girl from Kingston’,” Grange said.
Edwards, 49, died on February 16 after a battle with ovarian cancer.