Candace Parker: Bringing the Ace to the Aces

By Megan Williams

Candace Parker, or “Ace” as she’s lovingly known throughout the sports world, is one of women’s basketball’s most dynamic, fierce, and decorated players of all time on the court, with a storied carrier at the University of Tennessee with the Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt. She was best known as the first woman to dunk in a collegiate tournament game and the first to dunk twice in a regular game. Not to mention her two-time Associated Press Women’s College Basketball Player of the Year award. Her two-time SEC Tournament MVP. Her two-time NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and Naismith Player of the Year award bled directly into her uncanny rookie season in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks, where she was impressively named Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player in the same season.

Her WNBA career flourished in Los Angeles where she played from 2008 to 2020, with a one-year hiatus to have her daughter Lailaa in 2009. In 2016, the LA Sparks won a WNBA championship, where Parker was named the Finals MVP. The Sparks would make two more WNBA championship appearances in the next four years but would fall short. The accolades for Parker continued with a Defensive Player of the Year award, and her fifth WNBA All-Star appearance.

When Parker’s unrestricted free agency came up in 2021, Parker made the shocking but necessary move to the Chicago Sky, where she signed a two-year contract. A move that would prove to be fruitful as Parker’s second WNBA championship came in 2021.

In 2022, the Las Vegas Aces brought the first and only professional championship to the city of Las Vegas. With the likes of Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, Jackie Young, and two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, Parker will fit right into that coveted fifth spot for the Aces this season. Gray and Parker already have chemistry as they won their first WNBA championship together for the Sparks. It’s hard not to get excited about what this will mean for the Ace’s chances to put together back-to-back championships.
Off the court, Parker is an entrepreneur. In 2020 Parker and her daughter became part of the ownership group of Angel City FC, a Los Angeles-based soccer club that started play in the National Women’s Soccer League in 2022. Parker is an analyst and commentator for Turner sports breaking down both NBA and NCAA basketball games for the network.

Parker recently married her long-time partner Anna Petrakova in 2019, who gave birth to their son in February 2022.

Parker’s awards, accolades, and LGBTQ presence could be spoken about ad nauseum, but the vein of all of this is Parker likes to make an impact. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, and whatever she touches seemingly morphs into something greater than before. Her impact in Las Vegas remains to be seen, but given her past, we might just get our Ace in the hole.

Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine - Issue 44

This article was originally published in the 2023 Spring Issue of Las Vegas PRIDE Magazine, and can be read in its original format here.