Jamaican government honors Simone Edwards with Order of Distinction
Basketball pioneer Simone Edwards received the Order of Distinction (OD) from the Jamaican government during a special ceremony today, National Heroes Day, at the King’s House in Kingston, Jamaica.
“I am humbled to receive the Order of Distinction award and to join past recipients who I have long admired and respected,” said Edwards, who was eager to return to her home country for the awards ceremony.
When she signed with the WNBA’s New York Liberty during the league’s 1997 inaugural season, she become the first Jamaican player in the league. The retired 6-foot-4 center won a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm in 2004. After a six-year career with the Storm, she retired in 2006.
Her playing career also included standout seasons in Italy, Hungary, Israel and Spain, leading teams to championships, including the Israeli Cup and the Spanish Copa de la Reina.
After her retirement, Edwards was selected to represent her home country as team captain on the Jamaica Basketball Women’s National Team, winning the country’s first-ever gold medal at the 2006 Caribbean Basketball Championship. In 2014, she returned to the team as its head coach, leading them to another gold medal at the championship.
Her personal journey took her from an impoverished and gang-infested village in Kingston to receiving the OD honor recognizing her outstanding achievements and contributions to women’s basketball. The OD, Officer Class, is a national honor bestowed on Jamaican citizens who have rendered outstanding and important service to their native country in their respective fields.
“Her island paradise involved daily shootings, and living in constant fear that she or someone she knew could have been killed. With this truth, Simone’s success is a symbol of national pride and a reason for Jamaicans to believe and hold their heads high,” said Jobi Tyson, co-author of Edwards’ revealing memoir, Unstoppable, which was published in June. “Hollywood couldn’t have scripted her journey any better,” she concludes. Edwards’ life story is in film development.
This past summer, Edwards served as the national spokesperson for Caribbean American Heritage Month in June.