On the day LSU women’s basketball honored “homegrown” legend Seimone Augustus with a statue, current Tigers standout Angel Reese made the 15-year former WNBA star feel “old and happy” at the same time.

Reese showed up with a photo she had taken with Augustus in 2011, when the latter played for the Minnesota Lynx. The pair recreated that moment, which highlighted Augustus’ role in growing the game — and her ongoing connection to the LSU program.

“Angel, I mean she made me feel old and happy all in one day with the picture,” said Augustus. “It’s like coaches always say, you never know who’s watching.

“That picture kind of symbolized that as a pro athlete, I wanted to make sure I gave autographs and pictures to some of the younger people that’s in the crowd, not knowing that this day would come but thankful that this day is here because Ms. Reese is now a Tiger.”

Once called the most influential recruit in the history of LSU athletics by former athletic director Skip Bertman, Augustus was enshrined in LSU basketball glory Sunday. The team unveiled a statue of the star outside of Pete Maravich Assembly Center before the undefeated Tigers’ game against Auburn.

Augustus finished her Tigers career in 2006 as the program’s second-leading scorer with 2,702 points. She also set an NCAA record of 132 games of double-figure scoring — which she did in 140 games total.

She also became the first female LSU athlete to have her jersey number (33) retired. The Lynx also have retired Augustus’ jersey. They drafted her No. 1 overall in the 2002 WNBA draft, and she spent 14 of her 15 WNBA seasons with the them.

Her former Lynx teammate Sylvia Fowles was in attendance Sunday as Augustus was honored.

“There’ll never be another Seimone,” said former assistant coach Bob Starkey, who coached Augustus during her time at LSU. “There will be great players, but never another Seimone Augustus. Not at LSU.

“She was homegrown. That’s what make it different. She understands and loves Baton Rouge.”

For Baton Rouge native Augustus, the decision to attend LSU was also a decision to stay home and play ball for her hometown college. She was choosing between Tennessee and LSU, but ultimately decided to play for the Tigers, as they were the first to recruit her long before she topped her recruiting class.

“So many people here in Baton Rouge have followed my career since biddy-ball days so this is a celebration for everyone, not just myself,” Augustus said. “So many people were involved in this journey. I’m just grateful that it’s happening.

“I just felt like the things they were doing (at LSU) resonated most with me. Being at home giving my family, my supporters another four years to really let me become who I needed to become then go out into the world.

“Home is where the heart is.”

On Nov. 29, 2014, five days after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who killed Micheal Brown, Ariyana Smith became the first athlete to bring the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the sports landscape.

While Muhammad Ali, Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James are commonly thought of as the torchbearers of sports activism, Just Women’s Sports knows Black women have always been at the forefront of driving change. In the first piece of our Black History Month series, we shared the stories of Rose Robinson and Wyomia Tyus, athletes who fought against injustice in the 1950s and ‘60s. Since then, a myriad of Black sportswomen have taken action, some recognized and some not.

Smith, a basketball player at Knox College, suited up to play against Fontbonne University in Clayton, Miss., mere minutes from Ferguson. When the national anthem began to play, Smith raised her hands in the now iconic “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture before laying on the ground. Officials tried to move Smith in an attempt to start the game, but she continued her demonstration for four and a half minutes, symbolic of the four and a half hours Mike Brown’s body lay in the street after he was killed.

While the #BlackLivesMatter movement has spurred a frenzy of demonstrations in sports, Black women have been championing a variety of topics before the age of kneeling began. In the past twenty years, issues of racism, sexism and equality have been thrust into the public discourse due to the actions of Black women in sports, committed to creating a more just world for those who come after them.

Toni Smith

More than a decade before Ariyana Smith took a stand, a different Smith protested the national anthem. In 2003, Toni Smith, a senior basketball player at Division III Manhattanville College, turned her back to the flag in protest against inequality and the country’s involvement in Iraq.

(Wayne Taylor/Getty Images)

Venus Williams

In 2006, Venus Williams penned an open letter in The Times in a push for equal pay. A year earlier, she had addressed the Grand Slam Board, advocating for an equal distribution of prize money at the French Open and Wimbledon. Williams’ voice brought attention to the pay discrepancies in the sport of tennis and led to the leveling of pay at Wimbledon. When she won her fourth Wimbledon trophy in 2007, Williams became the first woman to receive the same earnings as that of the men’s champion.

Seimone Augustus

Seimone Augustus, a four-time WNBA champion and one of the most decorated players in women’s basketball, advocated for gay marriage in 2012. The 2011 WNBA Finals MVP wanted to marry her wife in the state where she had won a championship the year prior. The Minnesota Lynx star spoke out against a ballot measure that would have made same-sex marriage illegal in the Minnesota state constitution.

Brittney Griner and Layshia Clarendon

In 2017, Brittney Griner and Layshia Clarendon co-wrote an op-ed in which they voiced their opposition to a Texas bill that would have barred transgender people from using restrooms and other public facilities of their choosing. The WNBA stars saw the bill as a danger to queer athletes who may have been forced to use a locker room that differed from their gender identity.

Maya Moore

Maya Moore, one of the most accomplished women’s basketball players in the history of the sport, stepped away from the game at the peak of her success to pursue criminal justice reform. Moore dedicated herself to freeing her now-husband Jonathan Irons, who had been falsely imprisoned for burglary and assault. With the help of Moore, a judge overturned Irons’ conviction after he spent 23 years of his life in prison.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams has been outspoken about gender and racial equality for most of her illustrious tennis career. She wrote an open letter in 2016 addressing equal pay, and another in 2017, on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focusing on pay inequities unique to Black women. In 2018, Serena and Venus Williams joined the Billie Jean King Initiative to push for equal pay for women in all industries.

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix brought attention to Nike’s refusal to guarantee salary protections for pregnant athletes in a 2019 New York Times op-ed. Felix, the most decorated U.S. track athlete, said that Nike attempted to pay her 70 percent less after she became a mother. Shortly after Felix’s public appeal, the company expanded its pregnancy benefits for women athletes.

Allyson Felix and Serena Williams are also champions for Black maternal health. Both women experienced life-threatening complications during childbirth, common to Black women. Felix underwent an emergency C-section to save herself and her daughter after doctors discovered she had severe preeclampsia. Williams developed a pulmonary embolism and a hematoma shortly after she gave birth, resulting in a series of surgeries and weeks of recovery before regaining her health.

Williams’ story brought national attention to the Black maternal health crisis, and she invested $3 million in a Black-owned startup aimed at improving prenatal and postpartum care for new mothers. Felix testified before Congress to petition the government to address systemic biases that lead to disparities in maternal mortality.

Gwen Berry

Gwen Berry raised her fist during the national anthem after winning the hammer throw at the 2019 Pan American games. Berry, a thrower for the U.S. women’s track and field team, was protesting racial inequality and police brutality, and was subsequently put on a 12-month probation by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. As a result, Berry lost several sponsorship deals, totaling nearly $50,000. After the Olympic Committee reversed their stance on protests in 2020, Berry demonstrated again at the 2021 Olympic Trials, this time by turning away from the flag.

Naomi Osaka

Days after Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisc., Naomi Osaka refused to play the semifinals of the Western and Southern Open, forcing the tournament’s postponement. Less than a week later, she arrived at the 2020 U.S. Open with seven masks in her duffle bag, each embroidered with the name of a Black victim of police violence: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. Osaka wore a different mask during each round of the tournament, winning her second U.S. Open title while drawing international attention to police brutality.

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Raven Saunders

At the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, while standing on the podium, Raven Saunders raised her arms and crossed them into an “X.” The American made the Game’s first podium demonstration after winning silver in the shot put. As a gay, Black woman with a history of mental health struggles, Saunders’ crossed arms symbolized the intersection of her oppressed identities.

Simone Biles

On the eve of further cementing herself as the greatest gymnast of all time, Simone Biles withdrew from the team final and women’s individual all-around final at the Tokyo Games. She cited mental exhaustion and physical health concerns after experiencing the “twisties,” a state of dissociation that inhibits a gymnast from completing a skill.

As arguably the face of the Tokyo Olympics, dealing with the pressure of breaking world records, Biles felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. In a sport that has long demanded obedience from its young athletes, the simple act of saying “no” sparked a moment of reckoning in sports. Biles, who announced in 2018 that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar, a longtime doctor for USA Gymnastics, spurred conversations about mental health, abuse and exploitation with her decision. Biles, like so many other Black women athletes, continues to leverage her platform to drive societal change.

Mariah Lee is a professional athlete and freelance writer who specializes in the intersection of race and sports. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.S. from the Wake Forest School of Business. Follow her on Instagram @merdashewrote.

When readers get their hands on the new book basketball legend Seimone Augustus and longtime sports journalist Kate Fagan are creating, they will open it to find a colorful encyclopedia of sorts about the world of women’s basketball and pop culture.

“Hoop Muses,” the title credited to Augustus and anticipated to release in Spring 2023, will be a compilation of mini chapters with subjects ranging from landmark historic events, like the first intercollegiate women’s game ever played, to infamous moments of lore, like when Diana Taurasi kissed Augustus on the cheek during a heated play in a WNBA game.

(Illustration by Sophia Chang)

As our society slowly wakes from the coma of defining sports as male, there are massive gaps to be filled in telling the stories of women’s sports. Augustus and Fagan (and their publishers at Twelve) are motivated to fill that gap with “Hoop Muses” in a way that is fun and exciting, and that is a true representation of the joy and drama athletes and fans feel in their love for the game.

In a recent interview with Just Women’s Sports about the book, Fagan put it simply, “We don’t want it to feel like a dissertation on Title IX.”

With Fagan doing the writing and Augustus curating the content, they needed a stellar illustrator to complete the team and were beyond pleased to bring artist Sophia Chang on board. A talented and young multimedia designer, Chang has made a name for herself in the streetwear and sneaker industries.

“She gave you that feel, she gave you that funk that you were expecting,” Augustus says of the artist. “To tell the stories on the inside, you actually have to have that visual effect to really have that profound feeling of intensity of the story and of the movements you’re reading about.”

(Illustration by Sophia Chang)

An illustrated medium also allows Augustus and Fagan the freedom to get creative in not only telling the real-life stories of the game, but also re-imagining history and what it could have been. Like the forthcoming chapter where they recreate an iconic SLAM Magazine cover to feature Chamique Holdsclaw alongside the words “She Got Game.” Or the planned (W)NBA Jam chapter, where they bring to life the “top 10 dynamic duos that would have ruled the ’90s.”

“We want to build out cool, not anachronistic, but almost multiverse-level stuff. Like in a different world, here’s what NBA Jam would’ve looked like and here’s who you would have played,” Fagan explains. “Things that should have existed but didn’t. We want to build out that world, too.”

With the increased attention the WNBA garnered during its 2020 Wubble season, primarily due to the social activism and magnetism of the players, Augustus and Fagan feel the timing of their vision for this book is right on track with the demand from fans.

“It was becoming so clear over the last few years how many ways we’ve celebrated, mythologized, told the history of, created cultural value around men’s sports,” Fagan says. “We know the current logo of so many men’s teams and we know the previous seven logos. And we can trace the iteration of how the 1890s New York Yankees became the current New York Yankees. Women’s sports has never had that. Mythologizing women in sports is a crucial piece of building the cultural value around the game. We want this book to fill that gap.”

For Augustus, who lives by the “learn something new every day” adage, the opportunity to help educate current generations about those who paved the way has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the project.

“When you start reaching back in time and finding those moments where women had to go through certain things or certain eras for us to get here, it’s a beautiful thing to see,” Augustus says. “We want to give those players their flowers for what they’ve done to help us get where we’re going.”

Cheryl Miller (Illustration by Sophia Chang)

While Fagan is a seasoned author of several books, including the national bestseller “What Made Maddy Run,” this is Augustus’ first foray into the world of publishing. When she decided to retire from professional basketball and transition into an assistant coaching role for the Los Angeles Sparks just before the start of the 2021 season last May, the move was more sudden than she (and many of her fans) expected. Now, getting this experience in the world of publishing may be a stepping stone to writing her own book eventually.

“It kind of helps me put together a bigger idea of, if I were to put out a book of my own personal life at some point of basketball, what would that be like? But it’s all about having a great team,” Augustus says.

Fagan herself has recently chosen a new team. After many years at ESPN, she left the sports media conglomerate to care for her father in the final months of his life. Reflecting upon her career during that time, Fagan realized that although ESPN was a great experience for her in so many ways, she wanted more. She wanted her presence and content to be a more complete picture of who she is and what women’s sports are like.

“At ESPN, you’re so boxed in,” she recalls. “It’s hard to be funny. It’s hard to avoid being the person who just comes in when there’s a domestic violence claim in football. People start to see you in only one way.”

Now with Meadowlark Media, Fagan has teamed up with producer and co-host Jessica Smetana to create the extremely entertaining podcast “Off the Looking Glass.” She credits “Hoop Muses” with igniting many of the ideas and stories they cover on the pod. With both projects, Fagan has been able to incorporate much more of her natural humor and joy into what she wants to say about sports and society.

“You can try to get your point across for decades in a really earnest way, like, ‘You should care about this! Look at what those dudes are saying! Isn’t that ridiculous!’ And people don’t get it. Then you write a [comedy] sketch about it and you just let them come to their own conclusions,” she says. “It’s a different way to try to get the same point across. And I don’t think it has been one that has really been used very often in trying to explain the world of media and sports and women.”

Similarly, you can write a dissertation on Title IX and explain all the reasons women’s sports are important, fun, entertaining and valuable for an endless number of pages. Or you can put together a trio of one passionate basketball legend, one charismatic writer, and one cutting-edge artist, and show the world what it’s been missing.

Pat Summitt (Illustration by Sophia Chang)

Tessa Nichols is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports.