Over the weekend, Dawn Staley coached the University of South Carolina to its first national championship in women's basketball. The legendary point guard returned to her roots in North Philadelphia Thursday to bask in some hometown revelry.
It wasn't quite a parade down Broad Street, but from inside the auditorium at Murrell Dobbins High School you could hardly tell the difference. Luminaries from across the sports and civic worlds gathered with hundreds of fans to salute one of their own — Dawn Staley, a kid from the neighborhood.
Mayor Jim Kenney, legendary Temple University coach John Chaney, and even Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery showed their love.
Staley showed it right back.
"Everyone that know me knows where I'm from — knows specifically where I'm from," Staley told the crowd. Because you can say Philadelphia and it means the big. I'm from North Philly!"
In a city of basketball giants — among them Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant — few figures stand taller than the 5-foot-6-inch Staley. The star point guard turned star coach grew up in North Philadelphia's Raymond Rosen Housing Projects and first gained attention playing nearby at what was then known as Moylan Recreation Center.
She turned Dobbins into a basketball powerhouse during the late 1980s, leading the school to three consecutive city championships.