Chamique Holdsclaw stepped before an audience Tuesday night that likely knew her best for her jump shot.
Now they're better acquainted with her voice .
"It's like a newfound confidence and growth as a person,'' the former Tennessee women's basketball star said.
Holdsclaw, who played at UT from 1995-99, spoke to an alumni gathering at the Foundry, sharing her personal battle with clinical depression as chronicled in her autobiography "Breaking Through: Beating the Odds Shot after Shot."
"People have asked me: 'How was the process of writing the book?' " Holdsclaw said. "It was therapy for me. Reading it over and over, my demons, things that really drug me around for so long and have been on my back. To let go of that and just be this open book ... "
Holdsclaw had collaborated on a book with Jennifer Frey that was published in 2000. But that was before the death of Holdsclaw's grandmother, June, in 2002, which initiated a downward spiral that eventually resulted in Holdsclaw attempting suicide in 2006.
Holdsclaw begins her autobiography by describing the suicide attempt in stark detail.
"People can hear me, hear my voice in it,'' Holdsclaw said. She said that Susan Williams, a former Lady Vols associate athletic director, read the book and told Holdsclaw, "Wow, it's like talking to you."
Holdsclaw felt strongly enough about preserving her voice that she self-published the book. She has a similar feeling for her public appearances.
"I'm really growing into it because I see the way it's touching people,'' she said. "It's touching lives and that's the rewarding part to me."
Along with exhorting her to become UT's career scoring leader with 3,025 points, Holdsclaw recalled Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt challenging her to "speak up" as well. During her visit, Holdsclaw stayed at Summitt's pool house. And she spoke up regarding Summitt's coaching future. Summitt is pondering her next move after a season of
coaching while also dealing with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
"I told her I don't care what's next, the thing is whatever you decide to do, you have such an impact,'' Holdsclaw said. "Whether it be you come back to coaching or whether you devote your time to your foundation, she's going to touch lives. She has to understand that. I'm sure she does.
"When you're in a position like that, everybody wants to know (what's next). It's another stress. You have to do what makes you happy at the end of the day."
Holdsclaw knows that from fresh experience.
"I'm going to be doing this for a lifetime, advocating for mental health,'' she said. "Because it's so important. Everyone is affected by it."