LOS ANGELES – Imani McGee-Stafford, a junior center for The University of Texas Women's Basketball team, was named the Honda Inspiration Award winner as announced by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) today. The Honda Inspiration Award will be presented to McGee-Stafford during the live CBS Sports Network telecast of the 2015 Honda Cup at 8 p.m. Central (6 p.m. Pacific), on Monday, June 29, from the USC Founders Club at Galen Center.
McGee-Stafford refers to herself as a suicide survivor while others around her refer to her as the "definition of inspiration". She has dealt with traumatic adversities through her life including molestation at a young age and multiple suicide attempts before finding solace and support on the basketball court and "her voice" through slam poetry. She shares her story and experiences through competitive slam poetry and volunteer work and hopes that her words and honesty can inspire other young women to overcome similar circumstances.
"I am humbled that Honda and the Collegiate Women Sports Awards chose to honor me in this way," stated McGee-Stafford. "Being a student-athlete at Texas has given me a great platform to help and impact people's lives. Since telling my story in-depth, I have received an outpouring of support from a number of different walks of life. They have embraced me to offer support and, most importantly, share their own stories.
"If you're hurting, speak up no matter how hard it is. Weather the storm -- it's cliché and easier said than done, but there are brighter days. You just have to wade through the rough waters to get there."
The Los Angeles native is also inspiring on the court. A 2015 All-Big 12 First-Team selection, she helped her team to the Sweet Sixteen and ended her season averaging team-bests of 14.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and a .636 field goal percentage in six postseason games. She was recently invited to USA Basketball trials to complete for roster spots on the Pan American and World University Games. She previously helped USA Basketball win a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship.
"The impact Imani's story has had on so many people is a testament to her courage, resiliency, and candid personality," said UT head coach Karen Aston. "Her story transcends basketball; it is a reminder to savor life's moments and cherish the relationships that promote truth and self-expression. We are extremely proud of the way Imani represents our program."
As the CWSA's Honda Inspiration Award winner, McGee-Stafford will receive her award at a live ceremony in Los Angeles joined by an impressive roster of 2015 Honda Cup finalists, including Iona's Katie Avery (cross country), UAlbany's Paula Heuser (field hockey), UCLA's Sam Mewis (soccer), Washington's Krista Vansant (volleyball), Cal's Missy Franklin (swimming & diving), UConn's Breanna Stewart (basketball), Florida's Kytra Hunter (gymnastics) and winners yet to be named in golf, tennis, track and field, and softball.
THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards has honored the nation's top NCAA women athletes for 39 years, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.0 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women's athletics programs at the institutions.