Why Sparks’ Derekah Hamby pushed back on court less than 3 months after giving birth


Derekah Hamby I’m logged into a Zoom call at 9 p.m., fresh-faced in a long-sleeved Nike Jumpman T-shirt, and only a few hours left of her last workout of the day. After putting her two children to bed in an extended stay hotel in Southern California, the two-time WNBA All-Star is back in action mode.

“I’m very fortunate that they want to do this partnership,” Hamby told Yahoo Sports, referring to her endeavors with breast pump company Willow. Help educate working mothers about their legal rights and protections in the workplace.

The 29-year-old has a lot on her plate. She’s adjusting to a new team, the Los Angeles Sparks, while taking care of her 9-week-old son and 6-year-old daughter. At the same time, Hampy is calculating the damage from being traded from Las Vegas Ice during her pregnancy. After the trade in January, she released a statement detailing “disgusting comments” and “discrimination” from the team she spent her eight-year career with.

After two investigations by the WNBA, On Tuesday, the league reversed the decision to select the Aces 2025 and suspended head coach Becky Hammon for two games without pay.. The league found that part of the disciplinary action was in response to Hammon’s comments about Hamby’s pregnancy. Hamon denied the allegations on Wednesdaysaying she asked about carrying Hamby once and it was her trade because the team would get additional players.

Now in Los Angeles, Hamby is already back in business. She spent her Mother’s Day playing in scrimmage against the Seattle Storm.

And her choice to return to the court soon began from a place of revenge and evolved into something much more profound. The All-Star plays twice to prove something to herself, accepting a role at the forefront of workplace rights for moms in the process.

Derekah Hamby and her daughter Amaya at Sparks Media Day.  (Christina House/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Derekah Hamby and her daughter Amaya at Sparks Media Day. (Christina House/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The WNBA season starts on Friday. The Sparks would get Hamby in their regular season opener against the Phoenix Mercury, but they didn’t expect it.

“I called them literally a week before camp and said, ‘Hey, I’m coming to LA’ and they were like, ‘Really? “I’m here getting ready to play,” Hamby said.

New Sparks coach Kurt Miller and general manager Karen Bryant spent months assuring Hamby that it was safe to take her time, urging her to do so. “No, I’m going back to play,” she tells them, even before she knows when that will be.

As she sat at her home in Las Vegas and watched the athletes prepare for bootcamp on social media, she couldn’t deny the court invitation. Through injuries and her first pregnancy, the 6-foot-3 forward hasn’t missed a season.

“I was sad after that trade, and then I had to call myself a little bit,” Hamby said. “Because in the beginning it was about proving the Aces wrong, and I had to be like, ‘No, that’s not good. I need to do it myself. It shouldn’t matter. “

Hampi played a role three months after giving birth to her daughter, Amaya. Now, she credits “the grit and willpower” for proving to herself she can do it again as a catalyst.

She informs her new squad that she will skip any postpartum rest time and head to boot camp “four out of five” days before she starts – which is why she’s temporarily in a hotel.

“I am comfortable here,” Hamby said of her digs in “The Shed.” “They help me find a new place.” In addition to helping with the home search, the Sparks “always ask if there is any way they can help,” Hamby said. “If I ask for something, it’s done right away. It’s really encouraging and kind of a different feeling from what I left at the end of my situation.”

The experience with Hampy continued so much that her hands began to tremble when she spoke about facing her former team. Sparks will play the Aces on May 25-27. Hamon will be suspended during the first match. The second one will be in Las Vegas, after the Aces. ring party. Hamby played in the 2022 Finals for her former team while pregnant, but her presence at the championship banner unveiling isn’t going to go as she imagined.

“I’m just going to try to be myself and play hard. I’m not going to try to do too much,” Hamby said of the way she’s going to handle those potential emotional games. It’s still less than three months postpartum. You’re where you’re supposed to be,” she reminds herself as she becomes overly self-critical.

Even though she’s focused on the Sparks basketball, her health and the health of her children now, Hamby noticed a specific exchange that still carried weight for her.

“Someone from the Aces crew made a comment to me when I said I was pregnant: ‘No one asks you about your leagues, they ask you about your kids.’ And despite everything, I was kind of coming close to that comment and I’m still living through it,” Hamby said.

In what seemed like the perfect response, Hampy brought her two kids to her first media day with Sparks earlier this month. In addition to excitement and gratitude, she couldn’t help but feel how different everything was.

“Obviously, I’ve been in such a different situation for a long time, so [it’s] Hamby said. “But that meant a lot to me. Obviously, a legend [her son] She doesn’t understand, but Amaya is fully aware and she does. I asked questions like, “Did you do this to me when I was born?” Hamby remembers.

In addition to asking questions and helping her mother with her younger brother, Amaya gave an interview that the WNBA posted to social media, a reminder of the number of times the league and former Hampy team highlighted her mother before the trade.

“I debated it when I had my legend, if I would kind of keep it a bit more private,” Hamby recalls, “but honestly, I just try to be true to who I am and be a mom first. I think that’s kind of what makes me and my situation so special. It’s because My family comes first.”

With Sparks, Hamby would also work to stay true to herself as a player. She is known to be a leader, bringing hustle and bustle and down to earth. It’s still in the early period of seeing how her play style stacks up against Sparks’ roster, but those key traits carry over into her life.

When Hamby made her statement after the deal, WNBPA President Nica Ogomik issued her new teammate a warning. “You know, this will put you at the forefront of working moms in our league, as this continues and unlocks more. Would you be okay with that?”

Hamby’s response: “I think everything happens for a reason.”

Like any leader, Hampi wants to prevent her struggle from happening to anyone else. The Chicago Sky’s Ruthie Hibbard recently became a mom, calling the WNBA Moms Club an “elite company.” Skylar-Diggins-Smith of Phoenix Mercury recently, too She welcomed her second child.

“It seems like it’s becoming more common now. I mean, I think in the last year there were maybe five or six different women choosing to get pregnant and have kids,” Hamby said. “He was kind of upset early on in this league. You’re just afraid of what’s going to be after basketball if it doesn’t work out or you won’t be able to play.”

This fear is part of her drive to promote education and resources for parents and businesses, even though she shied away from speaking out early in her career.

“This is growth,” Hamby said. “When I had my first child and was breastfeeding, I was pumping in the open. It didn’t bother me, but for some moms it can be a little upsetting. We didn’t have the resources six years ago.” She acknowledged that progress had been made with the latest CBA to allow WNBA moms their full wages, but the holder player being traded was unprecedented.

“I’m kind of a staple in this league, and I’ve been lauded for being a mother. Then I have children again, and now it feels like the other way around,” Hamby said. “So if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. Now that I’m able to, I think I’ll get more involved with that.” [advocacy]. “

In addition to being a bigger advocate, Hampy to reporters On Sparks’ training Tuesday, “That part of it is over; the union and I will continue to explore more options.”

In the closed scrimmage Sunday, Miller reportedly gave Hamby big minutes to see how she plays through fatigue. No matter what approach he takes with her time on Friday, there will be plenty of eyes on her.


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