Words: Elle Clay

Photography: Ming Smith

Dearica Hamby is the kind of player everyone wants on their team. She’s versatile, highly efficient and possesses a distinct sense of loyalty. Her game has earned her accolades both in the U.S. and abroad. Off the court, she’s building a strong legacy for her three-year-old daughter, Amaya.

As a two-way player, Dearica became a national star at Wake Forest, where she ended her collegiate career in the top five of all-time double-doubles, free throws made, field goals made, blocks, games started, games played and minutes played. Those achievements made her the #6 pick by the San Antonio Stars in the 2015 WNBA Draft.

When the team moved out west, the Las Vegas Aces didn’t just change their name and staff, they also changed the lineup. Dearica would now have to come off the bench. As a lifelong starter, it took a moment to get used to. She ultimately embraced the role and maximized her reputation as an unstoppable threat.

2020 presented a myriad of challenges for professional athletes. For Dearica, one was deciding to bring her daughter into the WNBA bubble. Taking care of her daughter while pursuing a championship was not an easy feat. Just as she had in 2017, when she played four months into her pregnancy, Dearica gave the game her all; she delivered one of the most exciting plays of the season on the day she was crowned the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, for the second year in a row.

Whether in the U.S., South Korea or Italy, where she won the Italian Cup Championship, Dearica balls out. There are seemingly no limits to her game, and she believes that motherhood has intensified her athleticism. She’s proven that she’ll always hold it down, whether for her own family, her team or the Jordan Brand family. Welcome to the family, Dearica.

How does it feel to be a member of the Jordan Brand family?

It’s exciting. There aren’t many people who can say they represent a brand like Jordan Brand. It means a lot to be one of the few.

You’ve earned the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year award back to back. How would you describe that role?

It’s an important role to me. I know my game speaks for itself, and I could probably go somewhere else and be a starter All-Star, but it’s important to me that I was a part of the original team and grew into that role. To contribute to a championship-caliber team means a lot to me. I just do what I do, and it works.

You mentioned going somewhere else and being a starter. Is that something you were initially concerned about? Did you have to grow into accepting the role?

I had to grow into it, because I started during my first three years, up until my pregnancy. I had a starter mentality, and then the team, ownership and coaches changed, so they needed me to come off the bench. For me, I still play starter minutes. I still have a starter role, in a sense, and I finish the game. So, it’s all the same to me at this point.

Your game is efficient and reliable yet also very multifaceted. It’s been said that you’re asked to do “everything” on the court. How have you trained to be such a versatile player?

I just expand my game each year, so I can do one through five on both ends of the floor. My game is more about heart, and you can’t necessarily teach that. It gives me a toughness that I use to play through everything.

“I know my game speaks for itself.”

What has your experience been like playing overseas in South Korea and Italy? How has playing abroad impacted your game?

It definitely increased my mental toughness. Unless you’ve played overseas, it’s hard to really understand. It’s just different.

You also won a championship in Italy. What was it like to win the Italian Cup Championship?

That was cool. I loved Italy. I played there for three years, and I kept going back, because we hadn’t won anything. It was nice to finally get them something. I definitely take pride in that.

How did you originally get into sneakers? What are your favorite Air Jordans?

My mom used to lace me a little bit. I wouldn’t consider myself a sneakerhead, but I do have a nice collection, and I wear it when I can. My go-to pair would probably be the green turbo AJ1s, just because they’re super versatile, and the colorway goes with a lot of things.

You share a lot of great ‘fit pics on Instagram. How would you describe your sense of style?

Simple and to the point. It’s not too much, but you get the gist of it. And I still look cute.

There’s a sense of a swagger and confidence that comes with being a Jordan Brand athlete. You obviously have that, but how would you describe it?

It’s aspirational and confident. You can wear what you want. You know that you look good, and you play well in what you put on.

In your experience, what are the most important features of a basketball shoe?

Especially for women, I’d say durability. Our bodies are built differently. You want to have a lightweight feel, which helps protect our knees, too. Those two things, for sure.

What were your first impressions of the Air Jordan XXXV?

I noticed the aesthetic of them. I like the way they look, and how they have a futuristic vibe, no matter the colorway. I like that.

The Jumpman has grown to represent more than just basketball and even sports. What does it represent to you?

Family. To me, family is most important. I think about my daughter, my mom and my sisters. The brand represents that. I feel like I’m already family with everybody, and I just joined. They make you feel that love and sense of belonging.

Speaking of family, you’ve mentioned wanting your legacy to include your strong work ethic and your love of motherhood. You had your daughter, Amaya, in the Wubble with you. How has motherhood changed you on and off the court?

A lot of people say that my game changed after having Amaya. I think I have a sense of urgency, combined with my toughness. I don’t take any possession for granted, because you just never know. It could be your last. Becoming a mom changed that for me. Off the court, it’s similar. I’m appreciative of every moment.

Learn more about our WNBA family members here.