Jamila Wideman was born in 1975 in Denver, was raised in Laramie, Wyoming and Amherst, Massachusetts. It was around the time of her birth that she first began bouncing a basketball, and since that time the game has taken her around the world.
Jamila played on the varsity team at Amherst High for six straight years; beginning in the seventh grade; she then attended Stanford University on a full athletic scholarship from 1993-1997; leading the Stanford team as a four year starter and captain to three Final Four appearances in the NCAA tournament. After college Jamila was elected as the third overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the inaugural WNBA draft in the summer of 1997; enjoying a four year career in the WNBA. She spent the 1999-2000 winter season in Ramle, Israel playing in the women's professional league.
While at Stanford University Jamila completed a double major, earning a B.A. in political science and African-American studies. She was also able to pursue multiple passions including basketball, writing, and her commitment to social justice, in particular to eliminating the race, gender, and economic based inequities in our criminal justice system.
Since graduating from Stanford, Jamila has established the Stanford Athletic Alliance; a one on one and group mentoring program which paired young women from East Palo with players from the Stanford Women's Basketball team.
In 1997 Jamila founded and implemented another youth program called, "Hoopin' with Jamila." This program combined basketball skills clinics with a reading and writing program targeted at young women of color incarcerated in the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. The vision of this program was, "to arm young women with the freedom to imagine possibility and the courage to redefine themselves through self-expression." The success of the program played a large part in USA Today naming Jamila the "Most Caring Athlete" of the year in 1998.
Jamila continues to try to balance school and basketball. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and is in her second year of law school at New York University.
NOTE: This bio is as it appeared in The Forum program on October 18, 2001.
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