Retired WNBA star Crystal Robinson rose above several challenges during her youth to become a prominent professional athlete and coach. She chronicled the trials, triumphs, and lessons of her childhood in her autobiography “Finding Myself.”
In “Finding Myself,” Robinson explained how she endured racism and sexual assault, struggled to accept her homosexuality, and handled the loss of a close friend. Through the stories, she learned the importance of forgiveness, humility, and courage.
Her relationship with God, love for basketball and strong bond with her cousin Marvin were sources of joy and strength. Robinson started writing the book while playing pro basketball in Italy, her journalist friend read her work and encouraged her to write the book. The myriad of events that are taking place in the world inspired her to publish “Finding Myself.”
“Where the world is at today, I see how people really are evaluating their lives and spending time with themselves,” Robinson said. “I think that this book is a little guide on that, so I really wanted to put it out there to help people.”
One of the problems in her life was accepting the actions of her parents, who both suffered from alcohol abuse. As an adult, she gained some hindsight on that circumstance and found the positive outcomes from them.
“That came from years of learning emotional intelligence,” Robinson said. “I progressed to become a person who tried to find the positive in all of the negative because the negative is always gonna happen.”
As she excelled as a professional athlete, Robinson realized how the hard times that she went through prepared her for the rigors of being in the WNBA. During her eight years in the league, Robinson averaged 10.2 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. She spent most of her career playing for the New York Liberty.
Robinson also shared her experiences competing overseas and how she learned how to speak Italian fluently.
“I learned fast that it’s a miserable existence if you just go over there and act like an American and expect everybody to wait on you,” she said. “If you want to really be productive and thrive in Europe, you have to at least make efforts to learn the culture and they’ll respect you.”
During her third grade year, Robinson realized that she was homosexual; she also developed a strong relationship with God at that time. She never felt a need to change even though she lived in Oklahoma, a bible belt state.
“When I accepted myself, I really didn’t care what other people thought and my family loved me,” Robinson said. “I broke a lot of barriers in this area where I live at.”
Coming to terms with her sexuality was a challenge for Robinson, but it helped her to become deeply empathetic towards students who were ostracized and bullied by their peers. She even confronted bullies to the point where they left students alone.
“Since the book has been out, my inbox has been crazy with stories from people who are telling me things about meeting me,” Robinson said.
There is a section of the book that is called “The Legacy of Crystal Robinson” where people influenced by Robinson explain how she impacted their lives and the game of basketball. “Finding Myself” also features poems written by Robinson.
Her contributions to basketball got Robinson placed in the NAIA Hall of Fame, Jim Thorpe Oklahoma Hall of Fame and the Southeastern Athletic Hall of Fame.