Fall 2022

A'ja Wilson leads Las Vegas Aces to WNBA title: 'I've got to give it all to God'

The city of Las Vegas is celebrating a professional sports championship for the first time thanks to the Las Vegas Aces’ 78-71 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. It is also the first championship in the history of the Aces franchise, which spent 21 seasons in Utah and San Antonio before moving to Las Vegas in 2018.

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Leading the way for Las Vegas was WNBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, who averaged a team-high 20.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game during the playoffs. Wilson contributed exactly 20 points per game in the Finals and posted an 11-point, 14-rebound double-double while playing every second of Sunday’s series-clinching victory.

A WNBA championship was the only major accolade missing from the 26-year-old’s resume, which already featured national player of the year honors and an NCAA championship in college, as well as four WNBA All-Star selections and two league MVPs.

“Winning a championship is something that no one can ever take from you,” she said in the postgame press conference. “Once you’ve got that down, you are in the books forever. … When you’re talking about a legacy, you have to win. You have to win, and I don’t win without my teammates, so this moment right here, this year right here, is something that I’m never going to forget.”

Right after praising her teammates, Wilson gave thanks to God for the journey that led to her becoming a WNBA champion.

“For this to be a part of my legacy and a part of my journey, I am blessed,” she said. “I’ve got to give it all to God. Without Him, I wouldn’t be anywhere. He plays through me, and I always say, ‘Let that light from within shine brighter than the light that’s on you.’ It’s something special. I love where I am right now.”

Taken first overall by the Aces in 2018, Wilson has been instrumental in turning Las Vegas into one of the WNBA’s most consistent franchises. The team reached the semifinals three straight seasons before winning it all this year under first-year head coach Becky Hammon.

Throughout her career, Wilson has leaned on her faith in God. She grew up in a family of believers — one of her grandfathers was a minister — that made going to church a regular part of her childhood. She continued to grow in her faith under University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.

In a 2019 Sports Spectrum Magazine feature story on her and teammate Kelsey Plum, Wilson discussed the crucial role prayer has played in her life.

“Prayer has just really helped me out through my whole basketball career,” she said. “It’s a part of my pregame ritual, it’s a part of my warmup. It’s always involved because I know that it’s so much more than what’s at stake and what’s in front of me. I just have to give thanks, that’s the biggest thing. Prayer is my peace.”

Wilson also has Deuteronomy 31:6 as the first thing listed in her Twitter bio. The verse says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

“I just really love [Deuteronomy 31:6] because it’s always just a reminder to always be strong and never back down from anyone,” she said in a 2019 interview with Sports Spectrum. “It’s something that I really, truly believe in because I can’t worry about others if I know God is on my side.”

With Wilson and most of the team’s core under long-term contracts, the Aces should be among the favorites heading into next season. They could become the first WNBA team to win back-to-back titles since the Los Angeles Sparks did so in 2001 and 2002.

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