Woman of faith, NCAA Women’s basketball champion, gold Medal Olympian, WNBA Champion, Most Valuable Player, difference maker and the list goes on and on.
Alicia Jay: How tall are you?
Ruth Riley: 6’4.5”
AJ: I see you getting that .5 in there…I know that’s right! Do you like being tall? What is it about being tall that you like?
RR: Like anything else in life, being tall has its advantages and disadvantages. It took me a long time to feel comfortable with my height. My mom would always tell me to stand up straight but adolescence was not a friendly period for me. Once I got to college, I became more confident in who I am as a woman and then I began to embrace my height!
AJ: Unfortunately for a lot of us adolescence wasn’t a friendly period, were there any specific bad experiences that stand out?
RR: Bad experiences often came in cruel comments that people made or times when emotionally I just do not want to deal with the inevitable attention.
AJ: Got it. There are so many of us that can relate to both of those things. Now, a lot of people have followed your career but don’t really know you as a person. Can you describe yourself in one sentence?
RR: I am a compassionate, easy-going, woman who tries to live out my faith each day.
AJ: Now tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to find out…
RR: I love to joke around. Most people would assume I am very serious.
AJ: So we know you are a jokester, what about your fashion side? What do you like to wear and how would you define fashion?
RR: My favorite thing to wear are lululemon pants and a comfortable yoga top. And as far as the definition of fashion, I think fashion is an outward display of your personality, just like no two people are exactly the same, I don't think that any has the exact same sense of fashion.
AJ: Agreed! Now that we know some things about you personally, what about professionally...what do you do for a living?
AJ: That is so exciting! I know the season is starting soon, good luck! Do you like what you do? What is the best part? Is there anything you don’t like about it
RR: I LOVE what I do! I love sports in general, so the fact that going to work for me is heading to the gym, is a beautiful thing! I love the dynamic of working together as a team for a common goal. The most difficult part about my job are the sacrifices that I make with my family and friends. I have missed significant days in the lives of those I love because most times it is impossible to take a day off for days like my Mom's birthday or a friend’s wedding.
AJ: I’m sure that part is hard but I can imagine there are a lot of amazing moments as well. What is your most memorable WNBA moment?
RR: My most memorable WNBA moment was winning my first WNBA Championships in 2003 with the Detroit Shock.
AJ: Nice! That is definitely memorable. You love sports but did you feel pressure to play basketball because you were tall?
RR: Yes, society is always going to put pressure on those who are tall to not just play, but be great at sports.
AJ: Don’t we know it! If I get one more person asking me if I play basketball, I swear! So, outside of your basketball career, what are your goals and dreams?
RR: I love the platform that sports gives me to make a positive impact in the lives of others whether it is speaking to kids at schools or doing humanitarian work in South Africa where we use sports as an avenue to teach leadership skills along with HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
AJ: So with all of your accomplishments, what would you say is your biggest achievement?
RR: This is a difficult question to answer. The greatest honor I have ever had was representing my country in the 2004 Olympics and winning a Gold Medal! I have just recently been inducted in the Academic All-American Hall of Fame which is a great achievement because it is a combination of my academic and athletic accomplishments.
AJ: Your path has been amazing, if you could only give one piece of advice from everything you have experienced, what would it be and why?
RR: Believe in yourself, Dream BIG, surround yourself with positive people, and then work really hard to accomplish your dreams. My mom encouraged me to follow my heart, and then taught me the value of hard work to make my dreams a reality.