Chamique Shaunta Holdsclaw (born August 9, 1977) is a professional basketball player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) most recently under a contract with the San Antonio Silver Stars. She announced her retirement from the Los Angeles Sparks on June 11, 2007, though she eventually came out of retirement to play with the Atlanta Dream for the 2009 WNBA Season.
Holdsclaw grew up playing basketball. While attending Christ The King Regional High School in Queens, New York, she played for the school’s women’s basketball team, and led them to four straight New York State Championships in basketball. Holdsclaw was named a High School All-American by the WBCA. She participated in the WBCA High School All-America Game in 1995, scoring eight points. She is Native American.
Holdsclaw went to the University of Tennessee from 1995 to 1999, where she played under coach Pat Summitt and helped to lead the Lady Vols to the women’s NCAA’s first ever three consecutive Women’s Basketball Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. The 1998 championship was Tennessee’s first ever undefeated season at 39–0 and also set an NCAA record for the most wins ever in a season. She also helped lead Tennessee to two SEC regular season titles in 1998 and 1999 and to three SEC tournament championships in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
At Tennessee, Holdsclaw was a four-time Kodak All-America, one of only six women’s basketball players to earn the honor (along with teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Ann Meyers of UCLA, Lynette Woodard of Kansas and LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State.) Holdsclaw finished her career with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, making her the all-time leading scoring and rebounder at Tennessee in men’s or women’s history, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in SEC women’s history, and the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in the NCAA tournament women’s history with 470 points and 197 rebounds. She was also only the fifth women’s basketball player in NCAA history to have 3,000 points (a list including Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State, Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi Valley State, Lorri Bauman of Drake, Cheryl Miller of USC, and Cindy Blodgett of Maine). She is also one of five women’s collegiate basketball players to ever accumulate over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals (a list that includes teammate Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Miller of USC, Sophia Young of Baylor, and Armintie Price of Mississippi.) In 1999, Holdsclaw received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. Holdsclaw also won the Naismith trophy for player of the year twice, in 1998 and 1999 and posted a 134–17 win/loss record during her remarkable career as a Lady Vol. In 2000 she was named Naismith’s Player of the Century for the 1990s and was also part of an ESPY award given to the Lady Vols as Co-Team of the Decade for the 1990s. In 1996, 1997 and 1998, Holdsclaw was named to the Final Four All Tournament team.
In 2006, Holdsclaw was named to a women’s collegiate basketball silver anniversary team for being picked as one of the 25 greatest players of the past 25 years. She was also picked as one of the 5 greatest players in the SEC of the past 25 years.
Holdsclaw is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
In the 1999 WNBA Draft, Holdsclaw was selected by the Washington Mystics 1st overall. After this selection, Chamique gained the distinction of being the first, and only, female athlete to appear on the cover of SLAM Magazine. Furthermore, Chamique was pictured in a New York Knicks jersey, implying that perhaps she was good enough to be the first woman NBA player.
In her first season, she was named the Rookie of the Year, the first number one draft pick to win the honor. She was also a starter in the inaugural WNBA All-Star Game that same year. She is the first averaged 16.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in her first season. The next year, Holdsclaw was named to the Olympic team, helping to lead them to a gold medal.
During her subsequent seasons in the WNBA, Holdsclaw continued to improve her numbers. In 2002, despite missing several games with an ankle injury, Holdsclaw averaged a double-double per game with 19.9 points and 11.5 rebounds. By 2003, she was averaging 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. On July 24, 2004, however, she failed to show up for a game against Charlotte, played one more game in reserve and then did not play the rest of the season including the entire playoffs. At first, Holdsclaw refused to discuss the reason for her absence, other than to rule out cancer, pregnancy and drug addiction, but following the season, she told The Washington Post that she was suffering from clinical depression and that she had been ashamed to discuss it with the public. It ends up her grandmother died, the woman who raised her and she went into a real depression. She decided not to stay in Washington because of to many memories.
On March 21, 2005, Holdsclaw was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for DeLisha Milton-Jones.
In May 2006, Holdsclaw took a sudden two-week leave from playing for the Sparks, but later clarified that this was due to the serious illnesses of her father and stepfather. As of late June, she was averaging 14.4 points per game and 7 rebounds per game.
On June 11, 2007, only a few weeks into the 2007 WNBA season, she surprisingly announced she was retiring and did not immediately provide any explanation as to her sudden departure.
On December 17, 2008, the Atlanta Dream traded the 13th pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for the rights to Holdsclaw. Holdsclaw stated she definitely considered a return to the WNBA if healthy, and did. Holdsclaw has found herself to be a constant part of the team’s offense and a starter that season, despite an injury that kept her out several games toward the end of the season. However, she returned just in time for one game in the playoffs. The Dream lost to the Detroit Shock.
On May 19, 2010, she was released from the Dream after requesting a trade and did not report to the team. Two days later, she signed with the San Antonio Silver Stars.