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Lisa Leslie on playing as a mom: people think ‘you’re on your way out’

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Lisa Leslie is opening up about what it is like to start a family as a professional athlete, telling Dawn Staley on the Netlife podcast that “it is a lot of pressure to try to figure out when to have a child.”

The WNBA legend had her first child in 2007, ten years after first taking the court with the Los Angeles Sparks. With her daughter born in June, Leslie knew it would be nearly impossible to play in the upcoming WNBA season. She says telling her team was the hardest part.

“For us to go from first place to last place pretty much was difficult,” Leslie says of her season on the sideline. “Thank god for Candace Parker coming in that next class, the Sparks finishing last and getting the number one pick, everything ended up working out.”

Regarding pay, Leslie says that was another concern she had, remembering, “I believe the Sparks paid me half my salary while pregnant, I think.”

Returning to the court, Leslie had to figure out childcare for her daughter Lauren, who accompanied her mom on every trip.

“I did have to pay for my nanny to come with me, which was tough but it’s necessary. My baby went everywhere with me.”

Leslie also had to deal with people looking at her career differently after becoming a mother.

“People start to think you’re on your way out because of the child,” says Leslie, who played two more seasons after having Lauren.

Things have slowly begun to change since Leslie played, something the basketball icon is grateful for.

“I’m thankful the league has changed so much and made adjustments to the CBA so that these young women will have this opportunity,” says Leslie, “to still get paid and be able to have children.”

Listen to more from Leslie on motherhood, her playing days and her friendship with Staley on the latest episode of the NETLIFE podcast.