Allisha Gray is back home from the Tokyo Olympics where she and Team USA made history, and the Dallas Wings basketball star is feeling on top of the world.
The Americans took the lead in the gold medal matchup for the new Olympic sport of 3-on-3 basketball and held on for an 18-15 win over the team representing the Russian Olympic Committee.
On Wednesday afternoon, Dallas’ iconic Reunion Tower offered a fitting welcome for the gold medalist — a tour of the tower's GeO-Deck with her teammates and friends.
“Allisha, she works hard, and she deserves it,” said best friend and Wings’ forward Kayla Thornton. “What she goes through, time that she puts in the gym. I’m just so proud of her.”
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Hard work and sacrifice have paid off for the small-town Georgia native.
“This is something, a lifetime goal of mine that I’ve completed,” Gray said, looking down at her medal. “I mean, it’s like legit a real gold medal.”
Watch all the action from the Tokyo Games Live on NBC
Gray said the medal is heavy. She plans to show her family and frame it.
“My parents, they always had big dreams for me, so when I told my parents I had a dream, they were full supportive of whatever I decided to do,” she said. “I’ll be here all day talking about their sacrifice.”
Wings’ head coach Vickie Johnson is proud of Gray and believes the Olympic win will boost her confidence on the hardwood.
“The sacrifices she has made to be on the 3-on-3 is amazing,” Johnson said.
Johnson was set to join the coaching staff for the women’s national 5-on-5 team but contracted COVID-19 in April.
"Suffered a lot of side effects, so when an opportunity to go to Tokyo, I decided not to because I’m still dealing with side effects from COVID," she said.
For Gray, the biggest challenge of the Tokyo Olympics wasn’t being without fans and family. It was the humidity.
“It was really hot outside, having to adapt to humidity,” she said with a laugh. “In some games the sun was right on the goal. It was hard to shoot. I remember one time I was shooting a jump shot, I literally yelled, 'I can’t see.'”
Reunion Tower lit up a handful of times during the Tokyo Olympics — one time for each gold medal winner with North Texas ties, including Gray.
“All this for little ol’ me,” Gray said. “It was pretty cool, definitely an honor. The Reunion Tower is a big deal in Dallas, so for them to light it up specifically for me, thank you.”
Attention is now turning to the second half of the season. The Wings hope to make the WNBA playoffs, and Gray has a message for little girls with hoop reams of their own.
“Continue to dream big,” she said. “Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t achieve anything. You’re in control of your own destiny.”