Lexie Brown

Lexie Brown is betting on herself more than ever

Lexie Brown © Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2022 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Khristina Williams
Feb 26, 2022

Faith. Family. Unconditional love.

These three things are what former NBA player Dee Brown considers life’s non-negotiables, and are what he instilled in his daughter and WNBA champion Lexie Brown at an early age.

Playing basketball wasn’t something that Brown’s dad forced her to do, but it served as the thing that bonded their family. Her mother Tammy played college basketball, and her three siblings Alyssa, Alanni and Anakin are also athletes. 

Brown’s close relationship with her father is the reason she gravitated towards basketball in elementary school.

“What I admire most about Lexie’s work ethic is she just works,” said Dee Brown, a former NBA Slam Dunk champion. “She doesn’t need anybody to praise her. She doesn’t need anybody to tell her she’s doing well. When she was twelve we taught her, `You work in the dark so that when the lights come on you shine.’” 

Brown had first-hand experience of the sports industry through her father and realized the advantage she had over her peers growing up. 

“When I first started playing I wasn’t the best. I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the tallest. But, I definitely was the smartest and I credit that to him,” Brown said. 

Business and Opportunities

Basketball being a business is something that the 5-foot-9 guard had to learn quickly, entering the WNBA draft in 2018.

“You make the transition from college to pro in a matter of weeks and sometimes, for some people, it’s a matter of days,” Brown said. 

“It’s a complete shifting of your mindset. When you’re in college everything is catered to you. You’re the priority everywhere you go as a student athlete in college and it’s a blessing. When you get to the pros you get knocked down a few steps, especially as a rookie. You have to make that transition mentally very, very fast and with very little help.” 

The WNBA is a very difficult league to break into with only 144 roster spots and Brown’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. 

After being taken ninth overall by the Connecticut Sun, Brown barely saw the floor, averaging 5.6 minutes over 22 games and 10+ minutes only four times her rookie season. 

Before she could get adjusted, she had been traded to the Minnesota Lynx in 2019. 

“As an athlete you’re in an environment that’s ever changing. You just have to adapt,” Brown said. “I think that’s a really good personality trait that a lot of athletes have to have is being able to adapt to different situations. It’s something that is looked over a lot. I think it’s helped me become a better person.”

Outwork everyone in the room and take advantage of opportunities.

That’s the mentality that Brown has carried with herself throughout her professional sports career.

After two seasons with the Lynx, including a shortened 2020 season due to a concussion injury in the WNBA bubble that sidelined her for four months, Brown was waived one day before training camp. 

However, it wasn’t long before Brown received a call from Chicago Sky head coach and general manager James Wade.

Looking for a fresh start, Brown decided to sign a training camp contract with the franchise. 

The Sky waived Brown before the start of the 2021 season and would eventually re-sign the former Duke guard for the remainder of the season. 

The ups and downs of her career became mentally and emotionally taxing, Brown admitted, but said the support of her family and friends is what helped her power through. 

She accepted her role on the team.

“My role on the team this year was to push everyone in practice and to give them energy in the games. I think I did that very well and we ended the season with a championship,” Brown said. 

Free Agency

At the conclusion of the 2021 WNBA season the five-year veteran became a restricted free agent and would experience free agency for the first time in her career. 

Brown ended the season with the Sky feeling confident about re-signing with the team, but still held doubt due to the Sky’s limited salary cap and recent free agency signings.

Last month the Chicago Sky extended a qualifying offer at the veteran minimum to Brown, which she has not accepted. 

“I’ve always allowed the chips to fall where they may, or done what I could and then put my future into other people’s hands, and I made a decision this year that I wasn’t going to do that anymore,” Brown said. 

Walking in her light

Taking back the reins of life, Brown signed a contract to play overseas in France during the off-season to prove herself, but the lack of visibility of games caused her to second-guess that decision. 

When Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud reached out to Brown about joining Athletes Unlimited, she couldn’t refuse the offer. 

“Being overseas wasn’t good for me. And I knew it before I left, and still, I tried it. I was proud of myself for going over there and still performing at a high level,” Brown said. “But, I knew how visible Athletes Unlimited was going to be and I knew how I felt about myself as a player, how much work I put in and where my confidence was at. So coming here was the final step of betting on myself.” 

Fully aware of the narrative being painted around her as a player, Brown said her goal coming into Athletes Unlimited was to prove her naysayers wrong. 

“I know that a lot of people were unsure of what type of player I was offensively and defensively. I’ve never stepped down from a challenge,” Brown said. “I’ve been underrated my entire life. Some people may disagree. But ever since I was young, a lot of people did not think I’d amount to anything as a basketball player. And I’ve, one-by-one, step-by-step, been chipping away at my goals and accomplishments on and off the court. This league has changed my life.”

Brown has been a standout at Athletes Unlimited since opening week, averaging 13.9 points per game, 4.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.6 steals through 14 games. She was named to the league’s first-ever Defensive Team of the Year. 

Throughout the season, Brown has earned her spot as a team captain three out of the five weeks, an experience she believes will lead to a front office position as a general manager one day. 

Although her future in Chicago remains uncertain, there’s no doubt that she belongs on a WNBA roster. 

“I allowed people’s words, opinions, and thoughts about me to dim my light. And I tell people to not let anyone dim their light all the time. So I’m done doing that. I’m walking in my light.  Walking in confidence, never cockiness. But, I’m just going to be walking with a pep in my step after this league and in the W because I feel like I’ve proven myself to the world.” 

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