WNBA star inspires teens at Especially Me conference

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DENVER -- Over the past 14 years, Especially Me High School Conference has been honoring young black female students for scholarship, scholastic achievement, and choices they have made in their lives. Each year they invite nationally known women to inspire the teens.

This year, six-time WNBA All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw took the stage and shared her life story, telling the audience about her journey from the projects of NYC to the hills of Tennessee.

During her career, Holdsclaw won three NCAA titles and picked up an Olympic Gold Medal.

“My home life was tough, my dad had mental problems, my mom was an alcoholic,” said Holdsclaw. "My grandmother and stepfather were my anchors during my time in high school.”

Holdsclaw led her high school team to three straight New York State titles.

“In fact, it was the basketball court outside my grandmother's window that led me to where I wound up in life,” she said.

But the all-star battled depression and even tried to overdose on pills, until she discovered her own demons and learned how to deal with her illness.

"Coach Pat Summit told me that the illness that led her to step down from her job with the Volunteers was no worse than what I was suffering from. She said she wants to beat Alzheimer’s and that was what woke me up... if she can fight back, I knew I could as well," said Holdsclaw.

Holdsclaw is a national spokeswoman for the mental health organization Active Minds and has written a book about her struggles, "Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot by Shot.” She regularly speaks to groups such as this one, letting young women know they too can beat back their demons and find success with hard work and dedication.

The teens she met with are from Denver, Aurora and Cherry Creek School Districts.

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