“In My Skin: My Life on and Off the Basketball Court” by Brittney Griner with Su Hovey— Overcoming and Embracing

  1. in my skinGriner, Brittney with Sue Hovey. “In My Skin: My Life on and Off the Basketball Court”, It Books 2014.

Overcoming and Embracing

Amos Lassen

Brittney Griner has been named the most famous female basketball player by EPSN and is a once-in-a-generation player. She combines size and athleticism and has shattered stereotypes and broken boundaries. Now she shares with us her coming-of-age story and tells how she found her strength to overcome bullies and to embrace her authentic self.

Just as she makes headlines on the court so she also makes them in her private life. She speaks out on gender, self-esteem, sexuality and body image. Griner stands 6’8’, has an 88-inch wingspan and wears a size 17 men’s shoe. She has led her team, the Phoenix Mercury’s and she has heard it all—from insult to praise and she was teased and taunted in school and she still endures some of that today. She rises above the haters by staying true to herself.

In this memoir, she shares with us some painful times in her life and how tells us how she was able to embrace herself and celebrate what is unique about her. As she does this, she calls on us to be true to ourselves and to love who we are both inside and out.

In her heartfelt memoir, she reflects on painful episodes in her life and describes how she came to celebrate what makes her unique—inspiring lessons she now shares. Filled with all the humor and personality Griner has become known for, In My Skin is more than a glimpse into one of the most original personalities in sports; it’s also a powerful call to readers to be true to themselves, to love who they are on the inside and out.

Griner has done something really special in that she has opened an avenue of communication with other gay children with their families, friends, educators and other members of society. She teaches us

to be comfortable with exactly who we are regardless of how we look, act and love.

She came out to her father when she was a senior in high school and his response that was filled with curses was exactly what she dreaded. He told her to leave the house and she did. She led Baylor to a national championship in 2012 but the school had an official policy about homosexuality and premarital sex and it was the kind of school where words travel fast and when it got back to the team coach that Griner was gay (she was seen kissing a girl at a movie) she was told that she had to maintain a low profile  and this made her feel conflicted causing her to pretend to be what she wasn’t. What we see here is that the world of sports can be exceedingly narrow minded when it has to deal with tolerance (and that is not acceptance).

For many years, so-called negative recruiting has been used corrosively in women’s college basketball to suggest to high school stars that one school is a “gay program” while another embraces “family values.” Homophobia is a subject few want to address in public, Griner tells us that many “pretend it [homosexuality] doesn’t ­exist.” When she came to Baylor in 2009, she knew nothing about its gay policy—she picked the school because she wanted to play for Kim Mulkey, the coach at Baylor. Both she and Mulkey were daughters of former Marines and both women had strained relationships with their fathers. Griner respected her coach and Mulkey defended her against taunts and the way she was described by social media. However it bothered her that Mulkey asked her to cover her tattoos and to delete Twitter messages about her girlfriend and LGBT issues. She was told to keep her private life to herself.

When Griner was selected last spring by Phoenix as the No. 1 pick in the W.N.B.A. draft, Griner told “Sports Illustrated” she is gay. She was determined not to keep herself hidden any longer. Griner was embraced and for the first time, Nike signed an openly gay athlete to an endorsement deal. She had no desire to be like anyone else and she loves the fact that she stands tall and out in today’s world.

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