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Chicago's newest Sky-Diva of the WNBA

February 27, 2006
By Bernell Hooker



Tenitra Michelle Williams is one-third of the R&B music group Destiny’s Child. She’s also a gospel music singer, Broadway and television actress, and most recently the newest minority owner of the Chicago Sky WNBA.


On the Westside of Chicago at the Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls Club, girls started to take their seats on the bleachers. Destiny’s Childs music was playing in the background; the mystery guest has not arrived. Not knowing why they’re there, they sat quietly while some thought being in a gym means it’s time to play. So, of course when one moves, they all move especially when one of the club staff member tosses out a basketball. The girls ran, shot free throws and ran a few drills until they were told to take there places on the bleachers.

The Chicago Sky and PR staffers from TeamWorks Media were moving about handing out Sky t-shirts and backpacks while the girls were talking about, laughing, checking out the shirts, and admiring the logo of the Chicago Sky. Amongst the chattering, they just knew a player was coming to talk to them.


The Boys &Girls staff made sure that all girls were in their t-shirts and directed them to come together for a group photo shot. Television news cameras, photographers, and those who brought cameras were taking pictures from left to right. The girls were gleaming…

Still in their photo shoot positions, one of the club staffers got on the microphone and began to get the girls excited by telling them that there is someone here to meet them, but the girls were a little bit louder then he, but when he said, here’s Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, the girls welcomed her with screams and tears.


Michelle gave hi-fives to as many girls that she could reach. The excitement of her presence showed on the faces of these young girls. “I hope to learn from you guys and see what you can do on the court. I have a fourteen year old sister who’s almost six feet already. So, I hope she gets involved in the whole ball thing, she may have a little talent, but I’m going to tell her that I ran into a group of girls from the Westside.”

Decked out in slimmed down jeans, a custom Chi-Sky baseball jersey with the number “23” and white tennis shoes didn’t take away from her glamour. It’s awesome to know that a woman that’s as highly visible and respected in the entertainment world has not only invested in women’s sports, but with the Chicago Sky.


Why did you become an owner of a WNBA team, a girl shouts out. “It was something different. I know that everybody always see a lot of entertainers buying cars and houses and everything, which I have done, but I wanted to secure myself. But I wanted to make sure it wasn’t all about jewelry, hair, make up, designer shoes and all that stuff. I wanted to make sure I am putting my money somewhere which I know it will definitely grow to even inspire young girls such as you to do the same thing. You can own something; I’m so happy to have ownership with such a wonderful team.”

What motivates you, words coming from the top of the bleachers? “…I know sometimes I say I’m tired, I’m not doing this again and I’ve only been doing this professionally for about six years, but when I see people like Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Patti LaBelle who’ve been doing this for about 30 years; I can’t complain for only doing this for six. I still have a long long way to go; so you can’t get tired, but you know you will get tired physically but don’t let it get to the point mentally where you just get ready to throw in the towel or your just ready to stop because it’s not always going to be peaches and cream on your way to the top, on your way to success, it’s not always going to be fun, but it will pay off.”

 

Michelle spoke from the heart. She wanted these girls to see that it was okay to be an entertainer and be in the business of sports; the side that many young girls and women don’t often experience. We hear about bball owners Jay-Z with the New York Nets and Usher with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now we can relate to Sheila Johnson owner of the Washington Mystics and part owner of the Washington Wizards and Capitals and Michelle Williams… girls can now connect sports, women, and entertainment. They can be all that they’ve ever wanted to be because they are seeing it for themselves.

“Today was such a meaningful day for me knowing that I’m a part of the Chicago Sky team but also knowing that I can come to places like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys & Girls Club here in Chicago and I hope to do more things within the community to raise the awareness of the Chicago Sky. Many of these girls are seniors in high school; hopefully they go onto college and get drafted one day by a WNBA team.”


Her meeting with Margaret Stender, President and CEO of the Chicago Sky and Michael Alter, Chairman and Owner of the Chicago Sky and President of the Alter Group, Michelle stated she’s been asked about other investment opportunities, but it was Alter’s honesty that convinced her to be a part of something new. “I want to be a part of something that’s new so you can see the growth and see what’s going on. And to have a group of people who believed in it from the start is important and I’m glad to be one of those ones who believe in them right at the start.”


 

Does being an owner of a WNBA team mean the end of a solo singing career? “Definitely not, more albums are on the way. I hope to release another solo album of my own the first quarter of this year and go into acting.” Michelle has previously been on the UPN hit show Half and Half and have more auditions for more TV and film. “What I really like are the roles on the crime shows like Law and Order. I like forensics and it’s funny because me and my mom are just alike. I didn’t know she watched the show all day like I do. She likes forensics and so do I. When I was in college at Illinois State, my major was Criminal Justice and I minored in Sociology, so I must have gotten it from her.”

“I didn’t finish college, but I hope to finish. I tell people to go to school and do this and do that, but I want to make sure that I finish, especially for my fourteen year old sister because she kinds of think this life is glamorous and that everything is going to be given to her but I want to set that example for her and other people, that I have to finish and do it for myself.”


It’s important for young girls to see and know that you’re more than an entertainer, but also a business woman. If you can tell young girls one thing, what would it be? “To make sure you know the business (what ever you’re in), get your business straight, your finances in order make sure you watch over everything, don’t let everybody do something for you, be thorough at everything that you do, and find that business mentor; I’m telling you, you’ll go a long way.”


What’s the first word that comes to mind for the following?
Share – Blessings
Educate – The importance of it.
Empower – Our duty.


The Chicago Sky is the 14th team in the WNBA and is led by General Manager and Head Coach Dave Cowens, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame. The Chicago Sky will open its inaugural season on the road May 20 against the Charlotte Sting and at home May 23 against the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs at the UIC Pavilion.

Photos provided by Andre Hampton of
Special Request Entertainment


View Additional Photos

 

To order single or group tickets contact:
Ibrahim A. Fetuga
Account Executive
WNBA – Chicago
(312) 994-5988 or
ifetuga@chicagownba.com

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