As hard as it for me to acknowledge and for most to imagine, there was a time long ago when my future was completely unclear. A time when grief and sorrow filled a void left by shame and endless pain left through a public marking of AIDS. My mother, "Angie", carried this mark in the early 90s, and she lived every day in an uncertainty that I could feel, yet wasn't able to clearly identify. This is my thank you letter to my mother and all her sacrifices:
Her Scarlet "A"
Throughout the last decade of the 20th Century, Angela Wiggins ignored all rationality, for herself and for her children, and instead focused all her attention on her husband's dying wish; the one plea he expressed to her on his death bed. His only instruction for her was for all 3 of his children to attend college.
Not sure of her own survival, and her lack of any formal education beyond high school made this task a seemingly unfair request; my mother did little to hide her resentment that she was the surviving parent. These questions consumed her:
How could she make a way for her children for something of which she knew nothing?
What would happen if death betrayed our family once again, in this public/private manner?
Wouldn't she be better off just keeping us all out of the spotlight, away from the prying eyes of judgment that caused our late patriarch to collapse? It certainly was a tempting thought.
Suddenly, in 1991, the NBA had a shocking announcement to make and she quickly saw a way out of no way. "Basketball will accept us," she thought. She wasn't sure where it would all lead, but she didn't care. She found her only sane escape and a way to fulfill the dying wishes of Alan Wiggins by signing us all up to play basketball.
This was long before there was a WNBA; and before there was a WNBA, there was overseas basketball, and then there was the center of my mother's universe: Stanford Women's Basketball.
My mom believed in the dream of Stanford and the incredible significance for me when I was too cowardly to hope or see it for myself. Instead of fleeing from this dream, which is always what I wanted to do, I had to face my future. Back then, I'd rather ignore and run far away from my destiny than face the rejection that I felt ultimately came with a dream of this magnitude.
Nope, my mother wouldn't let me doubt or run--she made me believe.
I learned how to believe by watching and observing these women, and listening to what it took by hearing everything Coach Tara VanDerveer had to say on TV. Pretty soon, we were watching the 1996 Summer Olympics on television, our eyes lighting up with hope for the new possibilities being presented to women's basketball in America.
After the summer of '96, I was settled. I knew what I wanted, and I knew it would take an impossibly fearless mind to get there. I started this journey by doing the only thing I could do: I went outside, in my front yard.
I would go outside--with my mother--and shoot everyday with an unmatched determination.
I would go inside--with my mother--and pray for an uncertain future with an unmatched desperation.
With this life long discipline and determination, I found myself shaking in 2003, as I signed a Letter of Intent with Leland Stanford Junior University, a dream that literally took a lifetime to realize. All of this stemming from the crazy, ruthless ambition of my mother Angie, too stubborn and blindly ignorant to accept anything less for me.
As I get inducted into the Stanford Sports Hall of Fame, I honor her most of all, simply for giving me all the energy she ever had left.
Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach