Simone Edwards: The First Caribbean Player In WNBA Has Died At 49


At the age of 49, Simone Edwards, the first player from the Caribbean and the first from Jamaica to participate in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), passed away from ovarian cancer. The former WNBA player for the Seattle Storm, who was identified as having advanced ovarian cancer in early 2021, passed away on Thursday at her Florida home.

“We are saddened by the passing of our very own Simone Forbes,” the Seattle Storm posted on Twitter. “Our Jamaican Hurricane was a warrior on and off the court. With her indefatigable energy and optimism, she brought happiness to so many. Our thoughts and condolences are with Simone’s family and loved ones at this time.”

Edwards’ connection with basketball was the consequence of a chance encounter at a high school game; he is well known as the “Jamaican Hurricane.” She didn’t participate in high school basketball. After competing in a track competition in Jamaica, two American college basketball coaches noticed her. Because of her height and athleticism, they offered her a basketball scholarship to play in the USA. And with that, she started the process of becoming the first Jamaican and player from the Caribbean to play in the WNBA.

Edwards earned a scholarship at Seminole State College in Oklahoma after a year of mastering the game. When Edwards was a player for Seminole State College, he initially attracted attention by inspiring his squad to an undefeated conference record and a spot in the top 10 of the National Junior College Athletic Association. She became the first Kodak All-American in the school’s history while she was there and won other prestigious sporting honors.

After graduating from the University of Iowa, Edwards was chosen by the New York Liberty in the inaugural WNBA season in 1997. She later rose to the position of team co-captain there. Before joining the Seattle Storm in 2000 and finally winning a WNBA championship in 2004, she competed abroad, leading teams to championship trophies.

She was chosen to represent her native Jamaica at the 2006 Caribbean Basketball Confederation Championships after she retired from the league in 2006. Edwards won the nation’s first gold medal ever. She rejoined the group in 2014 as head coach, leading them to earn another gold medal at the competition. Previous to that, from 2007 to 2008, she worked for head coach Jeri Porter at Radford University.

Edwards addressed bullying, low self-esteem, and sexual assault outside of the court. She established the Simone4Children Organization in 2000 while she was a member of the Storm with the goal of educating and uplifting children by giving disadvantaged kids access to food, clothing, and school supplies. In addition, Edwards founded the Girls Untapped program in Jamaica and rose to the position of director of the country’s youth male and female basketball team.

The professional athlete recently authored her memoir “Unstoppable: A Memoir of Adversity, Perseverance & Triumph,” through her company, Diverse Writers Room. She details how she was able to “find the inner strength to maintain hope in the face of opposition.”

The Order of Distinction (OD), which may be bestowed to any Jamaican citizen who provides outstanding and significant services to Jamaica as well as to any distinguished citizen of a nation other than Jamaica, was given to Edwards in 2017. She agreed to serve as the spokesperson for Caribbean American Heritage Month that year in order to recognize the accomplishments of Caribbean Americans.

The 6’4″ former center also founded a basketball academy to assist and inspire underprivileged kids in her native Jamaica to study the game as a means of obtaining scholarships and learning many skills, including communication.


Leave a Reply