WNBA's Alexander writes and illustrates children's book

FILE - In this May 7, 2018, file photo, Indiana Fever center Kayla Alexander, center, reaches for a rebound between Chicago Sky's Linnae Harper (23) and Alaina Coates (41) during the second half of a WNBA preseason basketball game in Indianapolis. Alexander has always loved to draw since she was a child, when she was inspired by a patient teacher. She continued to blossom as an artist as she grew up, attending art camps at the encouragement of her mom. Then basketball entered her life, earning her a scholarship to Syracuse before she went on to play in the WNBA and overseas. Now the 28-year-old Canadian has been able to combine her two loves, writing and illustrating a children’s book, "The Magic of Basketball," to be released Thursday, Aug. 29. (Matt Kryger/The Indianapolis Star via AP, File)

NEW YORK — Kayla Alexander loved to draw since she was a child, when she was inspired by a patient teacher.

She continued to blossom as an artist as she grew, attending art camps at the encouragement of her mom. Then basketball entered her life, earning a scholarship to Syracuse before she went on to play in the WNBA and overseas. Now, the 28-year-old Canadian has been able to combine her two loves, writing and illustrating a children's book that will be released Thursday — The Magic of Basketball.

"I have a passion for kids, love to teach, love ball and art," Alexander said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "How can I combine all these passions into one thing? Write a book, a children's book."

The book takes young readers along Alexander's journey, allowing them to chronicle their own thoughts in the book.

"I wanted to be encouraging and inspire kids," said Alexander, who recently signed with the Chicago Sky after getting cut by the Indiana Fever in training camp. "Through basketball, there's so much more to it than winning games. It teaches you life skills, perseverance, working with others. It gives gifts like traveling the world, free education. Basketball is magical because it gives you so much."

Alexander first came up with the idea a couple years ago while playing overseas in the winter. It took her a few years to put it together and illustrate it. While she grew up drawing on paper, Alexander started using an IPad, which made her life a lot easier, especially when trying to illustrate the lead character, Kayla, on nearly every page.

"The hard part was the drawing style. I like to do more fashion illustration. Long limbs, a lot of characters (in the book) have long limbs. I wanted it to be kid friendly. I went through so many different drafts of what the character looks like before I found a style I liked," she said. "I tried to make it look somewhat like me. Make it look like any little black girl. When I was young, girls were only looking up to NBA players, thankfully it's getting better. They are showing more (WNBA) games on TV. Kids can see things where they can believe it can be me one day."

In the original drafts, the book didn't. Alexander said she wanted the book to be fun and engaging to kids. Not be too word heavy. Alexander credits her sister, Kesia, for helping her come up with the idea of having the book rhyme.

"She said 'Why are you doing that? You can make the whole book rhyme together, it made it flow much better," she said. "I'm thankful to her. She's trying to stay behind the scenes, but she helped make this come to life. Without her I wouldn't be publishing it."

Alexander isn't the first WNBA player to write a children's book. Elena Delle Donne has done a few, as well as Ivory Latta, in the past few years.

"I read Ivory Latta's and thought it was the cutest thing ever," Alexander said. "Young girls don't get to hear the stories of young women and I'm glad that more women are sharing their stories and hope it continues."

___

Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

Must Read

Neymar, Brazil come out blazing in Olympic soccer...

Aug 18, 2016

Neymar scored twice as Brazil rolled to a 6-0 victory over Honduras in the men's soccer semifinals

As expected, US men's basketball finds Spain on...

Aug 18, 2016

The U.S. men's basketball team expected this

Carmelo Anthony caps Olympic odyssey with 3rd...

Aug 22, 2016

Carmelo Anthony's remarkable Olympic odyssey ended with a third gold medal

Bird highlights US women's world cup roster

Sep 19, 2018

Fresh off winning a third WNBA title, Sue Bird will try to help the U.S. win a third straight FIBA...

US women basketball team heavy favorite to win...

Sep 21, 2018

It would be easy to think it's a forgone conclusion that the U.S. women's basketball team will win...

Sign up now!