Chapter 1 Early Years
When Diana Lorena Taurasi was born on June 11, 1982, her parents didn’t realize that she would one day be called a goat! The nickname “goat” had nothing to do with the animal, though. Diana would grow up to become a basketball GOAT—the G
IME. Baby Diana grew to be tall like a tree, leaping and running and dribbling and shooting basketballs over other players’ heads and into the basket. All over the world, people would say that Diana Taurasi was one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
As a child, however, the sport Diana and her big sister, Jessika, learned about first was soccer. Diana grew up in Chino, California, but her parents, Mario and Liliana, were immigrants to the United States from Argentina, where soccer, called fútbol in Spanish, was everybody’s favorite sport! Diana’s family spoke only Spanish at home, and they ate delicious Argentinian food like BBQ with chimichurri sauce, yerba mate, and empanadas. Diana’s father was born in Italy, but his parents had immigrated to Argentina when he was only five years old, so Diana was also influenced by her father’s Italian heritage. Mario would leave at 4 a.m. to drive to his job operating machines in a big factory and not return home until 8 p.m., where his family was waiting for him to eat after his twelve-hour shifts. Meals were a special time for the Taurasi family, who loved to talk and eat and laugh together.
Diana’s father was once a professional soccer player in Argentina, and there was always a soccer game on in the Taurasi home. Diana loved soccer and wanted to play all the time. But she loved basketball too, where she soared, leaping high and running fast on the court. Diana played basketball whenever and wherever she could—in driveways and parks, against boys and girls. She loved watching men’s basketball on TV too, especially games featuring Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant! Diana’s mother was a waitress and her father worked long hours, so it was difficult for her parents to take her to both soccer and basketball practices. But they did it because she loved both sports so much, and they loved her.
Diana was an amazing basketball player—fast and smart on the court. Her graceful arms and hands could launch the ball straight into the basket and she could jump high! Swoosh!
She reached 5'11" before she even became a teenager, and would one day grow to be six feet tall. Diana was confident and proud as she stretched toward the sky and her future as a basketball star!
Life in the United States wasn’t always easy for the Taurasi family. It was hard to be so far from their family in South America and challenging to earn enough money to make ends meet. When Diana was twelve, her parents missed their family so much, they decided to move back to Argentina for a short time. In Argentina, Diana saw many people living in poverty. She saw children without shoes and people living in shacks made from iron sheets. The Taurasis lived in a dangerous neighborhood, where they were once robbed at gunpoint in their own home. The robber even took the basketball shoes off Diana’s feet and put them on before he left! Thankfully, no one was hurt.
After her family moved back to California, Diana finally had to choose which sport she wanted to play most. Though she loved soccer, Diana and her family knew her greatest passion and most magical talent was for basketball, so she chose that path.
Diana, whose nickname was “Dee,” was happiest on the court. She’d dreamed of playing basketball forever, but at that time there was no professional women’s basketball association. Female basketball players could compete in college, but then their careers would end. Will things ever change?
Diana wondered. She looked to the men’s NBA teams for inspiration and watched every Los Angeles Lakers game she could. During halftime and time-outs, she’d run outside to her driveway to practice the shots superstar Kobe Bryant made!
Diana joined Don Antonio Lugo High School’s girls’ basketball team, where she wowed everyone. And, of course, her family watched every basketball game they could, cheering her on! Games were fun and exciting when Diana was playing, because in addition to being fiercely competitive, she loved to have fun! Diana played with joy.
Coaches from all over California noticed Diana’s talent. She was recruited to play for a team in the Amateur Athletic Union, then the all-stars! These were club teams made up of the most talented high school players across the country. Diana got to travel around the United States, competing and winning championships! As a high school player, Diana scored over three thousand points and led her team to many victories.
Copyright © 2022 by Chelsea Clinton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.