Hoop Dreams & Beyond: WBNA Player Essence Carson Finds Her Voice in Hip Hop

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Standing at six feet tall, WBNA player Essence Carson carries herself with a confident aura of elegance, all the while commanding the respect that she deserves.  The 26-year-old Paterson, N.J. native has been making quite a name for herself, and not just on the court. After capping off her fourth year as a pro basketball player, Essence is now adding successful hip-hop artist and community activist to her long list of accomplishments. This year is definitely shaping up to be the “Year of Essence.”

The New York Liberty guard/forward team member first exhibited her quiet strength in the public eye as a Rutgers University student and basketball player during 2007’s controversial season. That year, radio personality Don Imus took to the airwaves to verbally lash out at the Rutgers University women’s basketball team with a slew of racial and derogatory terms, most famously calling the team “nappy-headed hos.” Although at the time Essence was generally soft-spoken and quiet, Rutgers women’s basketball coach Vivian Stringer knew of Carson’s writing skills, and had faith in her ability to communicate the feelings of the team to the rest of the world.

Stringer’s decision proved to be a great one, and Carson was able to gracefully explain the outrage of her team members as well as condemn Imus’ actions, leading the radio host to be suspended from the airwaves shortly after the incident. She recalls the situation as a lesson in her own strength, which helped give her the confidence to express herself to her community and the public: “If I hadn’t gone through that experience I wouldn’t be able to pursue music and perform today.” Carson says.

Today Essence is a franchise player for the WBNA with the New York Liberty, and is continuing her success with pursuing one of her childhood dreams of a music career as a hip-hop artist.

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