- Morty Ain
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I know how it feels to sit on the bench. Growing up, I wasn't that good at basketball. I didn't play much. Actually I was so bad when I was 13, the coach told me, "Hey, you're going to play with the 12-year-olds so you can get better." Talk about being pissed ...
I just became good out of nowhere. This one summer when I was 13 or 14, the natural ability came out. I have no idea where it came from. I didn't do anything extra special. I guess everything just clicked.
I've dealt with a lot of cheap shots, a lot of elbows. When the ref wasn't looking, people would elbow me in my side or throw me really hard to the ground or hit my hip really bad. Just be dirty on purpose. It would make me so mad. But that's the game plan -- to take me out of my game. They know it's something that frustrates me. But as I've gotten older, I realize if you just show that it doesn't faze you, it doesn't bother you, they knock you down you get back up, then it doesn't happen as much anymore.
I have a lot of corns on my feet. It goes back to growing up with big feet. I started getting smaller-sized shoes and squishing my feet into them so people would stop saying that I had big feet. I can't tell you how uncomfortable that was, always having my toes just scrunched into tiny shoes.
To this day I regret ever doing that. Hopefully a little girl will see this and never feel bad about being tall or having big feet, because I really wish I never did that. God, I hate that I did that.
When I get on the court, I don't feel like the same person. It's a different person coming out to play -- this aggressive, passionate person. Beyonce called her alter ego Sasha Fierce, so I got the idea to call myself Lori Ann. This was about two or three years ago. I thought it was a lot of fun, because when Lori Ann came out, she was aggressive and mean; she gets dirty. Lori Ann wants to win, she hates losing.
They don't get out of LeBron's way in the open court, but he finds a way. That's the difference: You find a way to get to where you want to go when someone is trying to stop you.
I play in a Muslim country, so I don't get a Christmas break. I play for seven months in Turkey, and when I come back I only get one week off, then start back up with the WNBA. It's a long ride, so you have to make sure you are conditioned.
I told my parents, "I'll just stick with T-ball." But then they chose basketball for me. And I remember coming back and crying: "I don't want to play basketball! I want to play T-ball!" I guess they knew what was best for me.
Everyone said that I didn't have a jump shot. So when my father would get off of work, we'd drive to D.C. and work on my game for a couple of hours and then drive all the way back. We'd be driving to gyms at midnight -- to a 24-hour Run N' Shoot -- because in Baltimore there weren't really any gyms open late. I was an early teen when we started doing this, maybe 12 or 13.
If you hear Kevin Durant talk about how he used to spend the night at the gym? That was the same gym.
I never play for money. I feel like most athletes get paid, they get a lot of money and they kind of settle. I never settle, I always just enjoy the game.
[Guys] always treated it like a special thing whenever I blocked a shot. The game would stop and everyone goes "Ohhhhh," because someone just got rejected by a girl. So finally I got sick of it and yelled at them. "I'm a ballplayer; treat me like a ballplayer."
These two front teeth have been through so much. I was playing with my boyfriend outside and he was playing defense, and somehow he popped me in the mouth and my teeth went through my lip. I had to go right away to get stitches ... got about five stitches on my lip. We didn't break up after that, but I was on his case. He had to buy me a gift to make it up to me.
You ever see World's Strongest Man? Oh man, in college, we'd have to pull these big kegs and monster truck tires. Those kegs were heavy! I don't know if it was beer in them, but they were filled with something, and we had to carry them over our heads. We were doing stuff like that and I was like, "Screw this crap, I'm going to the gym."
I'm really hairy. When my hair grows out of my legs, guys used to make fun of me. I know I'm really hairy from my mom. If I don't shave every three days, then I'll have a lot of hair on my legs and under my arm, but I've been doing laser lately. [Laughs] I know I'm a pretty hairy person.
I'm really impressed with my jumping ability. I can get up and dunk a basketball. Most 6-foot women can't do those things. I know I can get over 10 feet. The crazy part is I know I have more potential to go higher.
Angel McCoughtry talked with reporter Morty Ain about what it was like to take it all off for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue and how she got good at basketball, seemingly overnight.