Lisa Leslie keeping busy in weeks after retirement

Oct 19 2009 - 5:48pm

NEW YORK -- Lisa Leslie isn't just sitting around after her recent retirement from the WNBA.

In the three weeks since playing her last game for the Los Angeles Sparks, the three-time MVP has been traveling and making public appearances while trying to line up broadcasting work.

"I've been on the hustle and bustle," Leslie said. "This is my second time here in New York, I've been to Atlanta. And in L.A., working and doing appearances, whether it's been 'Good Morning America,' 'Good Day LA,' NBATV. I feel I've been working hard already."

Leslie, who is starting a basketball academy in Los Angeles bearing her name, will be involved in broadcasting some college basketball games this winter and wants to branch out to other areas as well. She was pleased with her recent work on NBATV and said other networks have also expressed interest.

"I'm versatile enough not just to be linked to sports," she said. "I can do anything, when it comes to children, family topics, politics. I try to stay well-versed on pretty much everything."

Leslie also said she would like to get into acting and expressed interest in appearing on former NFL star Michael Strahan's FOX sitcom, "Brothers."

"I have to put that out there," she said. "I'm sure he's going to need a date soon on that show."

The nine-time All-Star was in New York this week to help drug and medical device maker Covidien kick off a liver cancer awareness campaign. The American Liver Foundation has dedicated October as Liver Awareness Month.

Leslie's stepfather, Tom Espinoza, was diagnosed with liver cancer in December 2000 and died the following month.

"It's tough when you watch someone you love die very quickly in front of your eyes," she said. "To be diagnosed with the liver cancer, and then go to the hospital, and you think the doctors are there to treat and help make you better, and they were in a very short period of time (saying) 'there's nothing else we can do."'

Earlier this year, the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that the rate of liver cancer in the United States had tripled in a 30-year period from 1975 to 2005, from 1.6 cases per 100,000 people to 4.9. Also, the American Cancer Society estimated nearly 23,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with the disease in 2009.

Covidien has created a new Web site,, aimed at educating people about the disease as well as discussing treatment options, something Leslie said her family didn't have eight years ago.

"We didn't have any other resources just because you have a doctor ... and you take their word for it," she said. "When it's kind of like there's nothing else they can do, you don't think to search and maybe find out if there are other options."

Leslie, whose playing days ended when the Sparks were eliminated in the Western Conference finals by eventual champion Phoenix on Sept. 26, said she watched most of the WNBA finals, but missed the decisive Game 5 because she was traveling.

One of the league's public faces since its inception, Leslie was pleased by the improved ratings for the finals, which saw a nearly 75-percent increase in viewers from 2008.

Previously involved with the WNBA's support of breast health awareness, Leslie acknowledged retirement would allow her more time to lend her name to other causes.

"If I can help change one person's life," she said, "I'll feel good about that."


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