Born on April 19, 1986, Candace Nicole Parker is one of the most decorated female basketball players to ever put on a uniform. As the youngest of Larry and Sara Parker’s three children, Candace grew up under her two older brothers, Marcus and former NBA player Anthony, and fell in love with the game of basketball at an early age. Candace, who was the first overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, is more than just a star on the court, she is an inspiration to all those around her. A WNBA Champion, WNBA Finals MVP, 2x WNBA MVP, 2x Gold Medalist, and WNBA Rookie of the Year are just a few of Candace’s many accomplishments throughout her career on the court. Off the court, Candace’s list extends just as long, ranging from being a mother to 8-year-old daughter Lailaa, to a renowned broadcaster, and inspiring role model for young women everywhere.
Candace Nicole Parker
A Young Star/Rising Star
A native of Naperville, Illinois, it was clear that Candace was destined for great things on the court at an early age. As a 15-year-old sophomore, Candace became a national sensation at Naperville Central High School, leading her team to back to back state championships in 2003 and 2004. Chosen twice, back to back, as both the Naismith and Gatorade Prep Player of the Year, Candace took her accomplishments one step further when she won the slam dunk contest at the 2004 McDonald’s All American Game, becoming the first female to ever win the event, and beating out multiple future NBA stars, including J.R. Smith, Rudy Gay and Josh Smith. After leading her high school team to back-to back Class AA state titles, becoming the first female in the state of Illinois to dunk a basketball in a game, Candace decided to take the next step of her basketball career by committing to the University of Tennessee.
Candace Parker entered the University of Tennessee in the fall of 2004 and redshirted her first season due to a knee injury. Shortly thereafter, she began her career for the Tennessee Lady Vols during the 2005-06 season under the legendary Coach Pat Summitt. As a Lady Vol, Candace soared. She became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA game, and the first woman to dunk twice in a single NCAA game. In her first season, she was named the SEC Rookie of the Year, led the Lady Vols to the 2006 SEC tournament championship, and even hit the game winning shot. Throughout the rest of her collegiate career, she went on to win back- to- back NCAA championships with the Lady Vols in 2007 and 2008, leading the team both in scoring (20.6ppg) and rebounds (8.8) her final season. Additionally, she was named the 2007 and 2008 Collegiate Female John R. Wooden Player of the Year, State Farm Player of the Year, Basketball Writers Association National Player of the Year, Kodak All- American, and earned the NCAA Final Four MVP award in both 2007 and 2008.
Team USA/International/Around The World
Candace’s international basketball presence spreads far and wide across the globe. As a member of Team USA, Candace’s career dates back to 2004, when Candace was a member of the USA Women’s U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship. When selected to the USA Women’s Senior National team in September 2006, Candace became the youngest member of the team since 1994 and helped lead Team USA to a bronze medal in Brazil at the World Championships, where she set a new American record for blocks in a tournament (14). In September 2007, Candace led the USA Women’s Senior National team to a gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship and earned them an automatic ticket into the 2008 Olympic Summer Games.
In 2008, Candace led Team USA to a gold medal during the Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China, and scored 14 points in the gold medal match against Australia, helping the U.S. Women’s basketball team capture their fourth straight Olympic gold medal. However, her Olympic glory did not end there. She went on to join the team at the 2012 London Olympics, helping lead Team USA to victory once again, clinching the gold medal against France and leading the team both in points (21) and rebounds (11).
Aside from Candace’s Team USA glory, her international career expands far beyond the Olympic podium. During each WNBA off- season from 2010 to 2015, Candace traveled across the world to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian league, where she won five consecutive championships with the international club. In December 2017, Candace signed with the Xinjiang Tiashan Deers Chinese franchise for the 2017-2018 off-season.
On April 9th, 2008, Candace Parker was selected as the 1st overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. In her first season in the WNBA, Candace immediately left her mark in history by recording the best rookie debut the league had ever seen in a victory against the defending champs, the Phoenix Mercury, where Candace recorded 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. Candace went on to finish her first year leading the WNBA in rebounds and double- doubles, became the second player to dunk in a WNBA game, and became the first player in league history to dunk in multiple games. At the end of the season, Candace earned both the 2008 WNBA MVP award and the league’s Rookie of the Year award, and she is still the only player in WNBA history to have won the league’s MVP award as a rookie.
In 2009, Candace began one of her most inspirational seasons of her entire career. At the beginning of the season, Candace gave birth to her daughter, Lailaa Nicole Williams, in May of 2009. Despite those who doubted her, she was able to juggle the birth of being a new mom and the rigorous schedule of WNBA play, and continued to play throughout the season, despite missing eight games after giving birth. However, it is no surprise that Candace finished the 2009 season as the WNBA’s leader in rebounds, and once again, as the WNBA leader in double- doubles.
In 2010, Candace began her third season in the WNBA, where she competed in the first 10 games, but missed the remainder after undergoing surgery on her left shoulder. She finished the season averaging 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1 steal per contest. Furthermore, Candace went on to miss much of the 2011 season due to a torn meniscus.
2012 marked the return of Candace Parker, where she averaged an impressive 17.4 points per game, 3.3 assists, and 30.7 minutes a game while leading the Sparks to the second seed in the West conference. She played the whole season, and led the league in blocks and defensive rebounds.
In 2013, Candace returned for her sixth season in the WNBA, where she earned her second MVP win. She finished the season averaging 17.9 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, and was a clear fan favorite when she received the second most fan votes to become a started in the All Star Game, where she was later named All Star MVP.
In 2014, Candace left an impressive mark, where she posted a team- high 19.4 points and 4.3 assists per game. She finished third in the league on the score charts, as well as landed her 5th All- WNBA selection.
In 2015, Candace announced that she would miss part of the season to rest. However, when she returned on July 29th, despite missing more than half of the regular season, she was determined to leave her mark. At the end of the 2015 season, Candace set a career high of 6.3 assists per game, ranking her 1st in the league. Furthermore, she averaged 19.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and a career high, 1.9 steals per game. Her astounding season performance earner her the Western Conference Player of the Month for August, and was named to the 2015 All-WNBA Second Team.
In 2016, Candace re-signed with Sparks, and led them to the WNBA finals where they faced the defending champions, the Minnesota Lynx. Candace led her team to a 77-76 Game 5 victory, and the Sparks claimed their first championship since 2002. As a result of her Game 5 performance, where Candace scored 28 points along with 12 rebounds, Candace finally won her first WNBA Championship and was awarded Finals MVP. In addition, she was named in the WNBA Top 20@20, a prestigious list of the league’s best 20 players in celebration of the WNBA’S twentieth anniversary.
In February 2017, Candace signed a multi- year contract with the Sparks, and was voted into the 2017 WNBA All- Star game for the 4th time. In July of 2017, Candace went on to become the sixth player in league history to record a triple- double in a win over the San Antonio Stars. Averaging 16.9 points per game, Candace led the Sparks to the WNBA Finals for the second consecutive season, where they would take on none other than the Minnesota Lynx. Despite a record breaking performance in Game 3, where Candace set the record for most steals in a Finals game (5) along with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks, the Sparks would lose the next two games, and failed to win back-to-back championships, losing to the Lynx in five games.
Beyond the Court
A Young Star/Rising Star
Having already accomplished such an incredible lifetime of achievements on the court, it is nothing less than both inspiring and astonishing to relish in the world of Candace Parker’s life off the court as well. A devoted mother to 8-year-old daughter, Lailaa Nicole, with whom she resides in Los Angeles, CA, Candace aspires to strive for greatness in all aspects of her life, across multiple different avenues of the sports world. As a highly recognized and knowledgeable broadcaster, who has appeared on the SEC Network, the Pac-12 Network, Inside the NBA on TNT, SportsCenter and more, Candace continues to hone her crafts both on and off the court. Most recently, Candace joined Turner as the only female analyst during the 2018 Men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament. In addition to her broadcasting career, Candace continues to be a profound voice for generations that surround her, and devotes her time and energy to helping some of the most important causes of today’s world. She has been an advocate for PETA, Loaves & Fishes, the March of Dimes, D.A.R.E, the Ronald McDonald House, and No Kid Hungry. Also, Candace has been involved in both the Alzheimer’s Association and Pat Summitt Foundation in honor of her beloved Coach Pat Summitt. She was a voice for women at the first ever Glamour Women of the Year Live Summitt in 2016, and was once names to People Magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People,” Candace has demonstrated, and continues to show the world her incredible ability to balance her life both on and off the court, while undoubtedly continuing to aspire for greatness in all aspects of the world around her.
- WNBA Champion (2016)
- WNBA Finals MVP (2016)
- 2x WNBA MVP (2008, 2013)
- 4x WNBA All- Star (2011, 2013, 2014, 2017)
- WNBA All- Star Game MVP (2013)
- WNBA Rookie of the Year (2008)
- WNBA All- Rookie Team (2008)
- 5x All- WNBA First Team (2008, 2012-2014, 2017)
- 2x All- WNBA Second Team (2009, 2015)
- 2x WNBA All- Defensive Second Team (2009, 2012)
- 2x WNBA rebounding leader (2008, 2009)
- 2x WNBA peak performer (2008, 2009)
- WNBA Top 20@20 (2016)
- 5x Russian National League Champion (2011-2015)
- 4x Russian Cup Winner (2011-2014)
- EuroLeague Champion (2013)
- AP Female Athlete of the Year (2008)
- USBWA College Player of the Year (2007, 2008)
- Naismith College Player of the Year (2008)
- John R. Wooden Award (2007, 2008)
- Wade Trophy (2007)
- Honda Sports Award (2007, 2008)
- Honda- Broderick Cup (2008)