Why Sparks’ Derica Hamby Pushed To Return To The Court Less Than 3 Months After Giving Birth

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Diorica Hamby logged on to a Zoom call at 9 p.m., fresh-faced in a Nike Jumpman long-sleeved shirt, just hours away from her last workout of the day. After putting her two kids to bed in a Southern California extended-stay hotel, the two-time WNBA All-Star went back to work mode.

“I'm very fortunate that they want to do this partnership,” Hamby told Yahoo Sports. Help educate working mothers about their legal rights and protections in the workplace.

The 29-year-old has a lot on his plate. She's adjusting to a team, the Sparks, while taking care of her 9-week-old son and 6-year-old daughter. At the same time, Hamby is dealing with the injury of being traded to the Las Vegas Aces during her pregnancy. Following the January trade, she issued a statement detailing “hateful comments” and “discrimination” from the team with which she had spent her entire eight-year career.

Following two investigations by the WNBA, the league on Tuesday revoked the Aces' 2025 draft pick and suspended head coach Becky Hyman for two without pay. Part of the disciplinary action was in response to Hammon's comments about Hamby's pregnancy, the league found. Hyman denied those claims on Wednesday, saying he once asked about Hamby's pregnancy and that she was traded because the team would get additional players.

Now Hamby is already in action in Los Angeles. He spent his Mother's Day playing against the Seattle Storm.

Her choice to return to the court so soon started in a place of revenge and turned into something much deeper. The two-time All-Star seems to have something to prove herself, acknowledging her role at the forefront of moms' workplace rights in the process.

Diorica Hamby and her daughter Amaya at Sparks' media day. (Christina House/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The WNBA season begins on Friday. The Sparks would have Hamby for their regular season opener against the Phoenix Mercury, but they didn't expect it.

“I literally called them a week before camp and was like, ‘Hey, I'm coming to LA,' and they were like, ‘Really?' And here I am getting ready to play,” Hamby said.

New Sparks head coach Kurt Miller and general manager Karen Bryant spent months assuring Hamby that it was safe to take his time off, and urged him to do so. “No, I'm coming back to play,” she told him, before she knew when.

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As she sat in her Las Vegas home and watched athletes prepare for training camp on social media, she couldn't resist Court's call. Due to injuries and her first pregnancy, the 6--3 forward has never missed a season.

“I felt hurt after the trade, and then I had to dial myself in for a while,” Hamby said. “Because initially it was about proving the aces wrong, and I had to be like, ‘No, that's not okay. I need to do this for myself.' It shouldn't matter.

Hamby gave birth to her daughter, Amaaya, three months later. Now, she credits “the determination and the will” to prove to herself that she can do it again as an inductee.

She informed her new team that she would be giving up any allotted postpartum rest time and that training camp “four out of five” days before it started — which is why she's temporarily in a hotel.

“I'm comfortable here,” Hamby said of his “penthouse” digs. “They're helping me find a new place.” In addition to assisting with the home search, Sparks “is always asking if they can help in any way,” Hamby said. “If I ask for something, it is done immediately. It's really encouraging and a different kind of experience than what I left at the end of my position.

The experience is so old with Hamby that his hands shake when he talks about facing his former team. The Sparks will play the Aces on May 25 and 27. Hyman would be suspended during the first game. The second one after the Aces would be in Las Vegas ring ceremony. Hamby played in the 2022 final for her former team while pregnant, but her appearance for the unveiling of the championship banner is not what she imagined.

“I'm just going to try to be myself and work hard. I'm not going to try to do too much,” Hamby said of how she'll approach those potential emotional games. She'll still be less than three months postpartum. “It's not about proving them wrong. You're right where you're supposed to be,” she reminds herself when she becomes too self-critical.

Even though she's focused on Sparks basketball, her and the health of her children, Hamby mentioned one specific exchange that still holds weight for her.

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“One of the Aces staff made a comment to me when I said I was pregnant: ‘Nobody asks you about your championships, they ask you about your kids.' And in spite of everything, I held that comment close to me and I continue to live by that,” Hamby said.

In what seems like an apt response, earlier this month Hamby brought both of her kids to her first media day with Sparks. Besides excitement and gratitude, she couldn't help but feel how different everything was.

“Obviously, I've been in such an isolated position for so long [it's] Just coming back comfortable,” Hamby said. “But it meant a lot to me. legend of course [her son] doesn't understand, but Amaya is fully conscious and she understands. He asked questions like, ‘Did you do this to me when I was born?'” Hamby recalled.

In addition to asking questions and helping her mom with her younger brother, Amaya did an interview posted on social media by the WNBA, which served as a reminder of how many times the league and Hamby's former team had sparred before the trade. shed light on her motherhood.

“When I had Legend, I debated about if I was going to keep it a little more private,” Hamby recalled, “but honestly I just try to figure out if I can.” Who am I and this is to be a mother first. I think that's what makes me and my position so special. It's because my family comes first.

With the Sparks, Hamby will also work to stay true to himself as a player. She is known to be a leader who brings hustle and ferocity to the floor. It's still early days to see how his style of play meshes with the Sparks' roster, but those key traits are turning up in his .

After Hamby made his statement after the trade, WNBPA President Nneka Ogwumike issued a warning to his new teammate. “You know, it's going to put you at the forefront of our league for working moms, as it continues and it opens up more. Are you going to be okay with that?'

Hamby's response: “I think everything happens for a reason.”

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Like any leader, Hamby wants to prevent her conflict from happening to anyone else. The Chicago Sky's Ruthie Hebard recently became a mom, calling the WNBA Moms Club “elite company.” Skylar-Diggins Smith of the Phoenix Mercury also recently welcomed their second child.

“It seems like it's become more common now. I mean, I think there's probably five or six different women in the last year who are choosing to stay and have children,” Hamby said. Said. “It kind of sunk in at the beginning of this league. You're just scared of what's next after basketball if it doesn't work out or you won't be able to play.

This fear is part of her motivation to promote education and resources for parents and companies, even though she shied away from being very outspoken early in her career.

“It's evolution,” said Hamby. “When I had my first child and I was nursing, I was pumping in the open. It didn't bother me, but it can be a bit disconcerting for some moms. We didn't have the resources six years ago. She acknowledged that progress had been made with the most recent CBA agreement to pay WNBA moms their full salaries, but trading a pregnant player was unprecedented.

“I am a major player in this league who has been praised for being a mother. Then I give birth again, and now it's kind of the opposite,” Hamby said. “So if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Being able to now, I feel that I would be more involved in [advocacy],

Besides being a great advocate, Hamby told reporters At Sparks practice on Tuesday, “This part of it is over; I and the union will continue to explore more options.”

In Sunday's closed scrimmage, Miller reportedly gave Hamby enough minutes to see how he played despite fatigue. Whatever approach he takes with his timing on Friday, a lot of eyes will be on him.