(Columbia, SC) — Celebrating her recent back-to-back WNBA championships, A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces forward and former star of the South Carolina women’s basketball team, was bestowed with the key to the city of Columbia on November 13. Wilson played a pivotal role in the Gamecocks’ journey to victory, culminating in the 2017 national championship.
Mayor Daniel Rickenmann, in a ceremony at Columbia City Hall, presented Wilson with the key, citing not just her on-court achievements but also her impactful contributions to the community, as mentioned in a tweet by the City of Columbia.
A native of Hopkins and an alumna of Heathwood Hall, where she led the school to a state championship in 2014, Wilson furthered her basketball career at the University of South Carolina. Her remarkable tenure at USC included three SEC Player of the Year awards, the 2017 national championship, and the distinction of becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer.
In 2021, the University dedicated a statue of Wilson in front of the Colonial Life Arena, the home of Gamecock basketball. This honor placed Wilson in the esteemed company of Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers as only the second USC athlete to receive such recognition.
Former USC President Harris Pastides hailed Wilson as one of the greatest athletes ever associated with the university.
Present at the ceremony were A’ja’s parents, Roscoe and Eva Wilson, who co-founded the A’ja Wilson Foundation. The foundation, a non-profit organization, focuses on reducing the stigma around dyslexia and bullying prevention.
Acknowledged as a 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 awardee, Wilson is not only a basketball icon but also a businesswoman. She owns the Burnt Wax Candle Company, a vegan-wax enterprise known for its long-burning candles and accessories.
Having been part of the 2021 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, coached by USC’s Dawn Staley, Wilson clinched the gold medal. With her stellar performance, she stands as a strong contender for a spot on the 2024 Olympic team.
The key presentation ceremony was orchestrated by the city’s Parks and Recreation Foundation, which collaborated with Wilson and Project Blackboard in 2022 to refurbish the basketball courts at Hyatt Park in North Columbia. The key was presented during the Foundation’s annual Legacy Gala, an event aimed at raising funds for youth scholarships, enhancing city recreational services, and upgrading facilities.
Expressing gratitude, the city also honored Wilson with a banner displayed on a parking garage overlooking the Vista, as revealed on Wilson’s social media.