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gold medal Olympic Insights

Dawn Staley


A 5'6" point guard, native Philadelphian Dawn Staley comes to this summer's Olympic basketball team by way of the University of Virginia and a career overseas. Alongside her dream of Olympic gold is the dream of playing in a pro women's league on US soil.

  • Name: Dawn Staley
  • Age: 25
  • Home: Orlando
  • Sport: Basketball
Olympic notebook: A first-time Olympian, Staley is a guard on the USA Women's National Team.

You've had some serious knee problems.
I've had several arthroscopic surgeries in each knee. I had some torn cartilage, and a couple times I just got to a point where I needed it cleaned out.

Did you injure yourself when you were playing?
I think they were just from overuse. The last two I had, I felt something. The times before that—there wasn't one isolated incident. I just heard some grinding and some popping noises.

You must have some tips to share after having gone through this so many times.
I could probably perform my own surgery. The rehab is all the same—it's pretty repetitive. It's a matter of disciplining yourself to do it. Some days you don't really feel like doing it. Those are the days you should work the hardest.

Do you have any interest in medicine?
Actually, I have. I wouldn't mind being a physical therapist. I know the dedication that's needed in order to get yourself healthy.

Have you often had to play when you're in pain?
I would say that I do it a lot. My knee situation is something that I'm going to have to live with. I don't think I'm ever going to be 100%.

So how do you do it?
It's a dream of mine to play in the Olympics. I'm not going to let knee problems slow me down. I've had to deal with knee problems my whole career. I went through college, I went through a couple of years overseas playing professionally. This is the biggest challenge of them all.

What other obstacles have you faced in your career?
I would say my background. I grew up in the inner city. Some people look at where you grow up and they can shun you, but I can't take that away. And if I could, I wouldn't want to. I would never want to take away where I grew up and where I come from.

Do you go back to your old neighborhood?
Most definitely. I go and play in the same playground and recreation center I did when I was growing up.

Are people pretty happy to see you?
Yeah, they are, they are. But they're still quick to shoot a jumper in my face—and then tell me about it.

They don't let you rest on your laurels...
They're who made me strong.

Jacqueline White is a contributing editor of The Physician and Sportsmedicine.