Angel Reese made her grand return to the basketball court on Thursday, where LSU played against Virginia Tech. The 21-year-old scored 19 points and nine rebounds, leading the team to a 82-64 win.
Thursday served as Reese’s first game in two weeks after taking a break. “This past week and a half really showed me a lot and who cares for me,” Reese said in her post-game press conference. “When you’re up, everybody loves you. When you’re down, you see who really loves you.”
Though Reese did not disclose the specific reason she was not on the court, she shares that her mental health is the ultimate priority. “Being able to be at the forefront, have a voice as I do, and use my platform as much as I can, I think it helps give a lot of young girls hope that they can do these things when they’re older too,” she told GU.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 6: Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Lady Tigers is seen before the game against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Naismith Hall of Fame Series at T-Mobile Arena on November 6, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
“I want people to realize that I’m not just an athlete; I’m a human. I go through things; we all go through things,” she says. “Being able to have such supportive people that were here for me through a tough time was really important.”
Reese continues to be a disruptive force and inspires young Zillennials to choose themselves even when all eyes are on them. One of the figures she leaned on throughout her hiatus was Shaquille O’Neal, who has become a close mentor to her.
“He checked on me. He called me every single day to make sure I was good,” Reese says. “He’s been here before, he knows what it takes. Just being able to have somebody like that was something that was really good for me. He told me when I was right, he told me when I was wrong, he told me what I needed to do to get back to where I am.”
Now with The Bayou Barbie back on the court, she’s geared up to help her teammates and show the next generation that prioritizing your mental health should not be deemed as negative. “I’m back, and I’m happy, and I’m here, and I’m moving forward,” she says. “I’m gonna help take this team as far as I can.”
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 6: Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Lady Tigers brings the ball up court during the game against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Naismith Hall of Fame Series at T-Mobile Arena on November 6, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.