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Chamique  Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw

Powerful Mental Health Advocate, Olympic Gold Medalist & WNBA Hall of Famer

Chamique Holdsclaw

Powerful Mental Health Advocate, Olympic Gold Medalist & WNBA Hall of Famer


Hailed as the “female Michael Jordan,” Chamique Holdsclaw was a basketball superstar. From leading The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers to three straight NCAA national championships with her team and legendary Coach Pat Summitt to the Olympics to the WNBA, nearly no one has had more focus or drive on the court. And yet underneath, she was pushing down mental health issues that eventually led to a total mental and physical breakdown.

Chamique suffered from serious bouts of depression and manic episodes, a suicide attempt and an incident in Atlanta involving a firearm. After the episode in Georgia, she was finally open to getting help and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. 

After a long journey of learning to manage her illness, Chamique has come back just as fierce. But this time, she’s dedicated her life’s work to mental health and wellness activism--sharing her own personal struggles with depression depicted in her documentary, Mind|Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw.

As a speaker, her talks are incredibly inspiring and have helped many open up about their own mental health issues or assisted those dealing with loved ones who suffer to seek support. Or as Chamique describes it, “being transparent, raw and real to help as many people as I can.”

Chamique was raised in Queens, N.Y. in a middle-class neighborhood. But with her parents no longer able to take care of her, she moved in with her beloved grandmother in the projects in Astoria. Her grandmother’s rule to keep her and her brother on track: Get involved in something good. For Chamique, it was basketball. To forget her problems, she totally focused on her game and learned the skills that made her a powerhouse.

She first made her mark as a high school basketball star at Christ The King High School. She later accepted a full athletic scholarship to play for Tennessee. The three straight championships for the Volunteers were the first that had ever been accomplished in Women’s College Basketball history. 

After her illustrious college basketball career, which included several All-American honors and countless other awards, Chamique would go on to be the #1 Pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. Her rookie season was capped with a WNBA Rookie of the Year Award as well as her first of six WNBA All-Star appearances. In 2000, she had the honor of winning an Olympic Gold Medal with Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Chamique is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and an ambassador with Laureus Sport for Good and with the JED Foundation as an advocate for mental health and wellness. She is also a member of the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame.

Speaker Videos

It's Not Where You Are Right Now, It's Where You're Going

16th Annual Prechter Lecture featuring Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw: outer success and inner turmoil. 2023 Women's Empowerment Conference keynote

Chamique Holdsclaw on depression and fame | Edge of Sports

Speech Topics

The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw: A Message of Hope & Healing

From the rough-edged courts of New York City and recruited by Coach Pat Summitt for the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols, Chamique Holdsclaw was hailed as the “female Michael Jordan,” impressing crowds with her artistry, athleticism and drive. A three-time NCAA champ and #1 draft pick in the WNBA, Holdsclaw seemed destined for a spectacular professional career—until her long-suppressed battle with mental disorders emerged to derail her career and threaten her life. In this inspiring keynote, Chamique will share her personal story of resilience as well as a message about the importance of self-care, prioritizing mental health, asking for help and knowing that you are not alone.

Breaking Barriers: Why Mental Health Is an Essential Human Right

Chamique Holdsclaw was not only a passionate player on the court—she’s regarded as one of the best college players ever—but also continues to be one off the hardwood, too. Chamique is a fervent advocate for mental health and standing up for the rights of those who suffer from mental health problems. In this talk, Chamique will share her personal journey of battling mental illness, the need to destigmatize it and stop discrimination against those who suffer from it. She’ll also address how you can help, from promoting understanding and empathy to improving knowledge to having open conversations about mental well-being to working together to ensure that mental health is recognized as an essential human right.

Building Constructive Dialogue Around Mental Health for Parents & Kids

For Chamique Holdsclaw, talking about basketball and the amazing way it impacted her life was easy. But what was hard for her was sharing with others that she was dealing with mental illness. Instead, she buried what was going on and focused on her sport—until her world came crashing down. And she’s not alone. Nearly half of those who are experiencing mental illness suffer in silence. Many are embarrassed or feel they’ll be discriminated against. So, they remain quiet. In this talk, Chamique shines a spotlight on the importance of building constructive conversations around mental health for both parents and kids and gives tips to help get the conversation started. “You have to talk to people who love you,” she says. “If you don’t have the skill set to fight for yourself, you’ll have people who can fight for you. I just kept so much inside.”

Bringing Your Authentic Self to the Workplace

For Chamique Holdsclaw, talking about basketball and the amazing way it impacted her life was easy. But what was hard for her was sharing with others that she was dealing with mental illness. That was a mistake she says. When she wasn’t being her authentic self, Chamique’s career suffered. She wasn’t at her best and it took a toll on her mind, body and work. And it’s the same for thousands of others. In this talk, Chamique shares her journey, the benefits of embracing your true self and viewing your identity as a strength instead of a weakness.