“For me, it’s the highest of highs because I’ve always looked at the Olympics as being the best that you could possibly get for women’s basketball,” Edwards said. “For me, it’s the most important honor ever. To be in the company of Muhammad Ali and Wilma Rudolph, that’s huge. It’s kind of like, pinch me, because I still can’t believe it.”
In addition to Edwards, the star-studded inductee list includes the 1992 men’s basketball “Dream Team,” Michael Johnson (athletics), Picabo Street (alpine skiing), Willye White (athletics), Mary T. Meagher (swimming), Sarah Will (paralympic alpine skiing), longtime men’s gymnastics coach Abie Grossfeld, skiing veteran Andrea Mead-Lawrence and special contributor Peter Ueberroth. Amazingly, members of this talented group of athletes, teams and coaches have been a part of a combined 21 Olympic and Paralympic Games and brought home a total of 46 medals.
“Her individual contributions to the teams she played on and those teams’ successes speak clearly to the the type of competitor that Teresa Edwards has always been,” Andy Landers said. “We’re proud of those achievements, but I think all Georgians are even prouder of the quality and the class with which she has represented our state and our country. She has truly been a great ambassador for everyone.”
Edwards, a Cairo High School graduate, was a two-time All-American at Georgia and went on to become the most decorated Olympic basketball player in the world, male or female, with four gold medals and one bronze medal in five Olympic Games. She is the only five-time Olympic basketball player ever for the U.S. and one of only three five-time Olympic basketball players (male or female) in the world. She is also one of only three U.S. Olympians to win gold in four different Olympic Games, joining former teammate Lisa Leslie and sprinter Carl Lewis. Only five other non-U.S. athletes have accomplished the feat.
Edwards was recently inducted in the first class of the Grady County Sports Hall of Fame as well.
Edwards played on the 1984 Games following her sophomore season at Georgia and also was a starter on the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Teams. Those five teams combined to achieve a 31-1 record and the 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2000 U.S. teams each went undefeated to claim Olympic gold.
“There’s too many memories from the Olympics to pick just one,” Edwards said. “I think the greatest has always been my first. You can never top the first time. Even though I did return, you can never top that feeling of everything being so wonderful and being the first time. I think ’96 was huge because it changed the face of the women’s game in the States. To be a part of the ’96 team, that’s probably my all-time greatest team. Just the magnitude of it all, every Olympics had an equal importance to me and the reason I was able to continue to go back. I have a lot of great memories, a lot of great coaches, I’ve had a lot of great teammates, a lot of great travel. Most of all, you can’t top the feeling you get once you step on top of that podium and get that gold medal around your neck. That’s the biggest, brightest moment an athlete can have.”
All told, Edwards was a member of 20 USA basketball teams, including two World Championship gold medal teams and, overall, teams with Edwards as a member compiled a 189-13 win-loss record.
“Olympians are champions, role models and leaders that inspire us to pursue our passions,” said Tom Wilson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Allstate. “The Class of 2009 continues this tradition and embodies the commitment to excellence and drive to succeed. They make us proud to be Americans. Allstate is proud to honor them as members of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.”
The U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be formally introduced and honored Aug. 12 at a banquet-style induction ceremony at McCormick Place in Chicago. The induction ceremony, hosted by Dan Hicks and Summer Sanders, will air in a nationally-televised broadcast on NBC on Sept. 5 at 2 p.m. ET.