- Leonard Middle School
Fort Worth ISD 2019 Graduate Receives Honorary ESPY Award
Outstanding Basketball Player Maintained Academic Excellence as Family Met the Challenge of Homelessness
Danielle “Boogie” Wilson, a 2019 graduate of Fort Worth ISD’s Paschal High School, is an honorary 2019 ESPYS award recipient. Presented by ESPN and Capital One, the ESPYS celebrate the best athletes and sports stories of the year.
Loved ones and Paschal High School fans looked on as Skylar Diggins-Smith, a WNBA guard for the Dallas Wings, presented Danielle with the crystal, globe-like statue Monday, July 1 at the high school’s Gus Bates Center. The presentation was met with rousing applause and a standing ovation from attendees.
Danielle was chosen to receive the award because she and her family were homeless for an extended period of time while maintaining excellent grades and turning in a consistently stellar performance as a player. She was widely regarded as both a leader and an inspiration for the Paschal High School girls’ basketball squad.
Danielle, with an infectious smile, thanked supporters before huddling in for a long embrace with family.
“It’s crazy. I never would have thought that I would be in this position,” Danielle said of receiving the ESPY award. “It shows me that anybody can do anything that you want as long as you put your mind to it, don’t quit, stay strong.”
For three years, she played more than 90 games on the Paschal varsity girls basketball squad, accumulating 1,500 points and more than 1,000 rebounds. During a portion of those three years, Danielle was homeless.
Danielle graduated May 31 and will attend the University of Houston on a full academic scholarship, majoring in architecture.
Dave Geer, Paschal Girls Basketball head coach, said what Danielle accomplished on the court and off it academically is phenomenal. Despite what she endured off the court, “she never wavered” but stayed humble, kept a smile on her face, and worked hard.
“I have never had a student-athlete go through this much adversity and succeed and reach the goals they set as a freshman in high school,” Coach Geer said. “She’s the epitome of a student-athlete. The sky’s the limit for the kid”
Danielle’s inspiring story of staying positive in the face of personal challenge was featured in a WFAA Original story in June, a recent Fort Worth Star-Telegram article and on NBC 5’s DFW Inside High School Program in January.
Mrs. Diggins-Smith, a 2015 ESPY winner, said Danielle’s story is why she wanted to meet her in person. Danielle’s journey is inspiring to many and one that deserves to be heard, she said. Mrs. Diggins-Smith said she sees a “direct reflection” of herself in how Danielle has excelled through sports.
“Your story is very encouraging. Just the strength, resilience, grit and the confidence that you have displayed. I’m sure you’re a role model to a lot of people you don’t even realize it,” she told Danielle during Monday’s award presentation. “You definitely inspired me.”
The 2019 ESPYS, slated for Wednesday, July 10 in Los Angeles, California, will air at 7 p.m. on WFAA-TV (Channel 8).