Insights into Kia Vaughn’s fruitful, beloved 14-year career


Kia Vaughn spent 14 years in the WNBA and has been the core of almost every team she has played on. That makes her one of them The 40 most experienced players in league history. However, her career is unknown to many.

“I’m like a secret agent,” Vaughn said The next.

Vaughn was never a stat stuffer or WNBA champion, but he’s found success in a way that’s potentially even more productive. Loved by her teammates, coaches, and everyone she’s interacted with, Vaughn’s under-the-radar role may be what makes her great.

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It all started in 1987 when Vaughn was born in the Bronx, New York City. She was the oldest of eight and the only girl.

According to Vaughn, she had a growth spurt when she was 12 or 13 and her mother forced her to play basketball. Though her mother raised her Her father was a well-known NYC streetball player.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t teach me basketball, but I get it from him,” Vaughn said.

And you can tell. Vaughn is built for the ball. At 6’4 tall, Vaughn has been a force in color on every team she’s ever been on.

The first was coached by her AAU team Robert “Apache” Paschal, who credits Vaughn as the person who taught her the game and the most influential coach of her long career. Paschall, who coached both Vaughn and the Seattle Storm Guard prince of the three kings on that AAU team, tailored his coaching to suit Vaughn’s interests and style.

“The volume you hear me yelling on the court is because his way of teaching was to help me because I loved singing at the time,” Vaughn said. “It helped me be louder. So that spread and yelled at my brothers.”

According to various teammates and coaches, these on-pitch communication and voice exercises have become integral parts of their careers.

“She’s one of the best of the best. She’s just so talkative … whether on or off the court, makes sure I’m okay,” Atlanta Dream teammate Naz Hillmon said The next.

They even call her Mom.

“Kia was my vet when I was a rookie overseas and she just took care of me,” guards the Las Vegas Aces Kelsey Plum told reporters. “She was like my mother.”

Aside from her trainers, Vaughn attributes these attributes to her mother and is the oldest of eight. Her mother, who calls her her best friend, taught her leadership skills and a role model from a young age.

“That’s what my mom used to tell me about my brothers: ‘Your brothers take care of you.’ And I could never understand why I got whooping cough but my brothers didn’t,” Vaughn said. “So I think consistency was practiced in me and it helped me to the next level. I can’t omit… Coach Stringer[, who] also had parts of it.”

Vaughn later played her college ball at Rutgers under legendary coach C. Vivian Stringer. She was team leader and helped guide Rutgers to their first-ever championship game in 2007.

Vaughn didn’t always appreciate Stringer’s teachings, but she knew they taught her to be a better person, to keep her feet on the ground, and to be a leader. “I had a love-hate relationship with her,” Vaughn said. “I wanted more freedom. She wanted me to be a bigger sister to the rookies in those moments.”

Vaughn kept telling me she didn’t know why she had such a prolific, long professional career. She’s an outlier in a league that’s three and a half years in the average career length. She’s always held a roster spot in an always-competitive W, whether because of her natural build or early-learned leadership skills.

In 2009, Vaughn’s home team, the New York Liberty, drafted their eighth overall. She spent four years there in her first New York stint, starting as a bench player and earning a starting spot. She brought home the Most Improved Player award in 2011. averaging a career-high 10.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

In 2013, she was traded from Liberty to Washington Mystics, where she spent four years; started most games; and continued to be a role player, a force in color, and a leader.

“When I took the job in Washington, my first steps were to get her and Ivory Lattasaid Mike Thibault, head coach of the Washington Mystics. “[I wanted Kia] for their daily work ethic and professionalism.”

According to Thibault, the Mystics reluctantly acted on Vaughn in 2016, and she spent another two years in the Big Apple. She retired from the 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles problem, the only significant injury she has sustained since college. She spent her free time healing and taking a well-deserved vacation with her mother.

In 2020, Vaughn joined the Phoenix Mercury after turning down previous interest from Minnesota and Connecticut. She played with the Mercury during the Wubble season and her 2021 WNBA Finals run, and the WNBA was great Diana Taurasi gave Vaughn the nickname “Positive Nancy”.

“I was always positive, positive, positive and [Taurasi] was like, ‘Nobody wants to talk to you right now. We need some Gunner stuff,'” Vaughn said. “And I was like, ‘Come on Dee, everyone’s mindset is in the mud. I’m trying to get her out. You know, it’s basketball, we gotta see the light of it all.

What is unique about Vaughn’s career is that it statistically regressed after 2011 career averages of 6.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game and never matched her MIP numbers again. However, their skills and their role on a team became so much rarer.

“One of my favorite players is Kia Vaughn because she’s the ultimate pro,” she said Sandy Brondello, Vaughn’s coach at Phoenix and current head coach of New York Liberty. “She really stepped up and was a great leader and just a really good person and very selfless. It fits into every system and does what it has to do.”

“Just to learn from her and see what she sees on court, off court it’s great to have a vet like that,” Dream Rookie Rhine Howard said The next.

“This is someone you want to go to war with, badass, plays right. One of the best teammates I’ve ever played with. If I ever get married, she’ll be there,” Plum said.

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“She’s just a real professional. She’s a really competent defensive player when it comes to understanding plans and following scouting reports,” Thibault said. “And I think she’s always been a plus for any team she’s going to play with because of the way she carries herself.”

“I’m really grateful to have a leader like that because I have moments when I need him,” Dream teammate Cheyenne Parker said The next. “I love playing with Kia.”

In early 2022, Vaughn was traded to Atlanta Dream. She’s known Dream general manager Dan Padover since college, and according to Vaughn, the fit was kismet.

She is an important part of this young Atlanta team with very few players who have played in the A before. Finishing 11th in 2021, the Dream are a surprise seventh in the league season with a 10-12 record. According to the head coach Tanisha Wright and Vaughn’s teammates, she is the veteran core of the dressing room and continues to be a defensive force and leader.

“She is the all-rounder of this team. She’s the glue, to be honest, the voice, the leader,” Wright said The next. “When she speaks, people listen and thank God because what she says is the right thing.”

Wright was on both ends of Vaughn’s lead as they were teammates and housemates at Elitzur Ramla in Israel during the 2011 overseas season. However, according to Wright, they didn’t see each other often off the pitch.

“Abroad, especially when you are young, you are outside; you’re having a good time; you’re partying,” she joked.

Like most W players, Vaughn has had a successful international career. From 2009 to 2020, she spent her WNBA offseas playing in Israel, Italy, the Czech Republic and Turkey. Though she never brought the chip home with her in the US, she called himself a EuroLeague Final Four MVP and was a EuroLeague champion, three-time Czech National League champion, three-time Turkish Super League champion and much more.

Everyone agrees that Vaughn is the ultimate pro and makes teams better wherever she goes. But after 14 years as a pro, Vaughn said The next that it could happen this year.

“There’s a big, big possibility that this will be my last go-around,” Vaughn said.

If it’s the final year, Vaughn will leave a tremendous legacy across the league. She holds a loved place in the hearts of almost everyone she has interacted with, and she remains immensely grateful for what the game has given her.

“Overall, I just love the game of basketball. It helped me get my mom out of the hood,” she said.

Though she has no specific plans after basketball, she said she would love to have children with her husband of two years. But for now, she has two dogs, a home in Maryland, and a large family waiting for her.

The next‘s Jackie Powell and Matthew Walter contributed to this article.


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