Candace Parker is one of the most famous female basketball players in the world, being named the 2008 rookie of the year and MVP for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Candace is married to former Duke University basketball player and current Boston Celtic star, Shelden Williams. The 23-year-old mother of one opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the joys and challenges of motherhood, her hopes for daughter Lailaa and her experiences growing up with big basketball dreams.
CBS: What has surprised you about motherhood? What has been challenging? What has been your greatest joys?
CP: “I never knew the true meaning of love until we were in the hospital that first night and I felt complete. I had my husband asleep in the chair next to me with my little baby girl on his chest, snoring.
Motherhood has been filled with joy, I wake up every morning and look forward to spending the day with Lailaa. I was surprised by how true the mother’s intuition is and respect my mother a whole lot more than before I had my daughter. There have been challenges along the way, during my season I was nursing so I had to wake up early on, sometimes 4-5 times per night. Rest was a huge issue because as an athlete you rely on taking your body to perform the best you can and Lailaa did not allow me to get my rest!”
CBS: You gave birth to a daughter, Lailaa, in May of this year and returned to the basketball court weeks later. How did you manage to return so soon? Tell us about your training schedule. Did you breast feed Lailaa? Also, do you have a nanny/cook/housekeeper to help?
CP: “I started working out roughly two weeks post-delivery. I had a strong foundation because I trained throughout my entire pregnancy up until three days before I delivered. Afterwards, I started back stretching, cardio, light court work and body weight lifting.
As the weeks progressed, I did more and more and by 6 weeks I was able to begin practicing. My husband and I did have a nanny for Lailaa that worked for us only from the hours of 8 am until 12 or 1 pm and also worked game nights because we did not want to bring her to home games.
I was breast feeding so Lailaa’s feedings were my responsibility at night and during the day. My husband and I are really stubborn and chose to attack this new task ourselves and have the least amount of help as possible.”
CBS: When did you start playing basketball? Did people discourage you to pursue your basketball dreams because of your gender?
CP: “I began playing basketball at the early age of 5 or 6, but I have always been involved with the game ever since I can remember. My father played in the 70s at the University of Iowa and my brother played in college at Bradley University and currently still plays in the NBA. I come from a long lineage of basketball players.
I can remember as a kid going to the park with the family and watching my brothers and dad play games and pouting because I had to wait my turn to play! I was always encouraged by my parents to believe and go after my dreams. Gender was never an issue and I was always taught to be proud of my height and big feet (smiles)! In fact, in some ways, I have reversed the stereotypes of women athletes. This is evident by the number of male fans that come up to me speaking of their now support for women’s basketball. When I would go to the courts as a kid, my first visit I would be picked last, but soon after that the guys would pick me first!”
CBS: You and your husband Shelden Williams both have professional basketball careers. How do you manage your family life with your busy careers? Are you both on the road a lot? If so, does Lailaa always stay with you?
CP: “Fortunately, our careers are mostly opposite one another; he plays in the fall/winter and I play in the summer. We see each other a great deal, but there are times when we have to be separate. During my WNBA season this past year, Lailaa traveled everywhere with me because I was nursing. To date, I have not spent a night away from my baby and dread the day that occurs because I struggle spending a few hours away from her!”
CBS: With both mom and dad as basketball stars, are you hoping Lailaa will follow in your footsteps?
CP: “I hope Lailaa follows her own path. If it is basketball great, maybe she will follow her uncle’s path and be a doctor or maybe she will play tennis. The sky is the limit for her and I just will encourage her to dream and to try new things.”
CBS: Is it always all-things basketball in your house? Or do you like to watch/play other sports? Or maybe even just regular TV?
CP: “All things are not basketball in my house, but the game is a huge part of our lives. We enjoy watching football, especially college. Every Saturday I wake up and flip on the television and plop down on the couch for a long day of watching football! We watch regular television in our house, lately there has been more Yo Gabba Gabba and Lazytown, but before baby it was Jon and Kate plus 8 and The Game.”View Slideshow »»