Aliyah Boston is a young woman who was given the chance to live her life again after an unfortunate incident left her with severe amnesia. Her memory began returning piece by piece, but it wasn’t until she met a man named Chance that everything came back: love, grief and most importantly-her passion for acting.

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    ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel

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      Mechelle Voepel is an espnW reporter that covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports. Voepel has been with ESPN since 1996 and has covered women’s basketball since 1984.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — In sports, do-overs aren’t always possible. The shot that bounces off the rim conjures up sad memories and troubled dreams. For athletes who have been used to success, the fraction of a second that may divide them is agonizing.

It acted as both incentive and annoyance for South Carolina post player Aliyah Boston. Her putback attempt bounced out as the buzzer rang in last season’s national semifinals, eliminating the Gamecocks with a one-point defeat to Stanford. Her agonizing response, in which she doubled over with anguish, has been repeated several times. It wasn’t as though Boston wanted or needed to see it again.

Boston’s national triumph with the Gamecocks, on the other hand, has surpassed any prior disappointment.

South Carolina completed a wire-to-wire race this season as the No. 1 team in women’s college basketball, giving coach Dawn Staley her second NCAA title, with a 64-49 victory over UConn on Sunday, in which Boston had 11 points and 16 rebounds for her 30th double-double of the season and was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

It’s the conclusion of a year in which Boston has matured into the finest player in the women’s collegiate game, has improved on all of her talents, and learned that her voice as a Black woman and a notable athlete is a gift she wants to put to good use. Boston was determined not to let her second chance at a national title slip away after that missed shot in San Antonio.

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“You’re going to stoke my fire if you utilize a video of me sobbing for a long time,” Boston stated. “I never want a picture of me sobbing to be used again.”

South Carolina’s first victory, in 2017, was a watershed moment for the program and a form of redemption for Staley, who had reached the women’s Final Four three years in a row at Virginia but had failed to win a championship. Her gold medals as a point guard for USA Basketball served as a balm. But Staley’s unreserved joy at the Gamecocks’ first national victory, which came 25 years after her collegiate career ended, revealed that she had never completely exorcised that ghost until she had the NCAA trophy in her hands.

It was more of a lingering needle for Boston than a haunting. Despite the fact that the Virgin Islands native has never needed to be prodded towards achievement. That drive came easily to me.

Her father, Al Boston, stated, “She was always eager to get up and go.” “She was ready and eager to practice everywhere we went.”

Cleone Boston, her mother, adding, “She’s always been a hard worker. That’s something she’s always had. She was prepared to go to any length.”

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Aliyah Boston of South Carolina pays tribute to her hero Candace Parker and then has a heartwarming moment with her after the podium festivities.

Boston kept thinking about how close she was to competing for the NCAA championship in 2021, after being denied a shot like everyone else when the 2020 tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Because of her consistency as the Gamecocks’ interior anchor on attack and defense, Boston has earned every national player of the year award thus far this season. She might be a powerhouse in the WNBA right now, but she isn’t old enough to be drafted as a junior at the age of 20.

Better food and exercise regimens, greater strength training, sessions with NBA icon Tim Duncan — and last year’s memories — all helped her reach this level in her third collegiate season. Despite the fact that the putback she missed took both talent and chance.

It remained with her parents, who talked to the media after Boston won her latest player of the year award on Thursday at Target Center. They weren’t there to hug her after South Carolina’s defeat because of continuing COVID-19 rules during the tournament in San Antonio last year.

“I had the need to weep. I wanted to embrace her so badly “Al said. “However, I believe it was beneficial to allow her to go through it, to experience it, and to comprehend it.”

Cleone said, “My heart was broken. Except there was nothing we could do but pray and go through it with her, knowing that everything will work out in the end, but it doesn’t make the anguish go away right now.”

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The South Carolina Gamecocks won their second national championship, defeating the UConn Huskies.

Cleone also did what she usually did: she sent her daughter scripture, reminding her of the bigger picture, of not being depressed because things didn’t go as planned.

“Honestly, I believe it worked out for her when she missed that shot and her team lost,” Cleone added. “She would have wanted to win anyway, but it inspired her to keep pushing, to set new objectives for herself and her team, and to work as hard as she could to achieve them. And this year’s performance speaks for itself.”

Boston established an SEC record with 27 straight double-doubles, and she was selected the Naismith defensive player of the year in addition to being named player of the year. Staley fought hard for Boston to get the individual distinctions she has, even though she understood they weren’t all that essential to the city.

Other things didn’t become distractions because Boston’s mentality was so focused on the title. That isn’t to say she was exclusively thinking about basketball. Boston, like her South Carolina predecessor, 2020 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, is devoted to social justice and equality, as well as finding her position in the world beyond athletics.

When asked whether she had any advise for Boston, Wilson stated, “I’ve urged her to just keep being herself.” “They may attempt to pit you against other players in the media, or they may believe you are this, that, or something other. Don’t worry about it. You have no control over it. Control what you can and be true to yourself.”

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Aliyah Boston, a standout for South Carolina, expresses her feelings after the Gamecocks defeated UConn to win the national title.

Boston is becoming more conscious of her significance in the sport, as well as what she means to the youngsters that watch her in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Virgin Islands.

Her parents grinned as they related how they heard about a fourth-grader who gave a presentation on someone from the Virgin Islands who has inspired them. Boston was chosen, and the small girl even dyed the ends of her hair blue in honor of Boston, who is famed for her beautiful braids.

The national title does not erase 2021, but it does serve as a reminder to Boston of the importance of the hill she still had to climb after the setback. And there’s more to Boston than the ring she’ll get and the awards she’ll receive next season.

“I understand that I have a platform, and I believe that if I believe something is wrong or not occurring, I should be allowed to speak out about it,” Boston added. “It’s funny because I always assumed that if you had a huge platform, you shouldn’t be the one speaking while you’re in college.” Because everyone will have their own viewpoints.

“However, not everything will always go your way. It’s not even about sports; it’s about everything in life. It’s as if being able to stand out and utilize your voice, particularly as a person of color, is like having your ground.”

And now that she has a championship trophy in her hands, Boston is stronger than ever.

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