First child gives Norcross grad Hamby a break from basketball

Wake Forest forward Dearica Hamby (25) tries to block the shot by Duke’s Azura Stevens (11) during the 2015 ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum Complex. (Photo: Jim Dedmon-USA Today Sports)

NORCROSS — For someone who has had basketball as a major presence for most of her life, the idea of taking four months or more away from the game would seem unthinkable.

But as it turns out, the current break from basketball doesn’t bother Dearica Hamby quite so much.

Mere weeks, and perhaps days, away from giving birth to her first child, a daughter to be named Amaya, the Norcross grad and WNBA forward with the San Antonio Stars doesn’t mind the break a bit.

“Feb. 26, estimated,” Hamby said when asked her due date following a ceremony honoring her accomplishments at Norcross during the Blue Devil boys and girls doubleheader with Meadowcreek on Jan. 27.

The 6-foot-3 forward was forced to miss the final few weeks of the Stars’ season, her second WNBA campaign in which she had made big strides in her game by increasing just about all her statistical production to 9.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game and increased her shooting percentages from both the field (42.2 percent) and the free-throw line (72.3 percent).

It’s an amazing feat considering how far along into her pregnancy that she played.

“Actually, I did play up until the last two weeks (of the 2016 WNBA) season,” Hamby said. “So I played up until I was about four months (along), and then (San Antonio Stars) Coach (Vickie Johnson) and I just agreed that it wasn’t worth it with the situation we were in and our season for me to jeopardize anything, especially with all the traveling.

“Now that I look back, I see it kind of happening where my (production) kind of dropped off. I never wanted to make excuses for myself or anything, but all my teammates knew, and obviously my coaches. I just played through it.”

On the surface, Hamby’s pregnancy couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time, not only on the heels of a successful WNBA season but forcing her to sit out an offseason of playing overseas.

However, while she says the pregnancy was a little earlier than she had planned, she said she couldn’t be happier.

“The timing of it was OK,” the former second-team Daily Post All-County selection said. “Alonzo and I have been married (and playing ball) for a long time, so it’s OK.”

Alonzo is her husband Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, another former Norcross basketball standout who had his own successful college career playing at both Richmond and Pittsburgh.

While they don’t always get to see each other as much as they would like because of basketball, the game is what brought them together in the first place both were Blue Devil standouts.

In fact, they have known each other since before either transferred to Norcross their senior year in high school — Hamby from Marietta and Nelson-Ododa from Winder-Barrow.

“We met junior year of high school,” Hamby recalled. “We met … after the (Georgia Athletic Coaches Association) junior all-star game at a Taco Bell maybe 20 or 30 minutes outside Savannah. Then we started dating right away, and we both came to Norcross. I’d already known I was coming to Norcross, but he was still kind of up in the air with his family.”

While there are still a few things in Hamby’s life that are still up in the air — most notably, exactly when little Amaya will make her official arrival — one thing is certain.

Basketball will remain in her future, and quite soon.

“I’ll be back this year. Training camp is April 24, so give or take two months (after her due date),” Hamby said. “Yeah, I’m just going to play as long as I can. We travel a lot, which is cool. I’m excited for my daughter to get to experience all of that, and (Nelson-Ododa) is doing all of that, too. So we’re just going to make it work.”

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Sports Reporter

Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.

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