By Melanie Soverinsky
During Friday’s game against the Minnesota Lynx, the Seattle Storm will host its eighth annual Storm Out Cancer night, including a tribute to former Storm star Simone Edwards who died from ovarian cancer on Feb. 19. 2023.
Edwards’ basketball career started after an American basketball coach saw her speed at a track and field meet in Jamaica. After collegiate stints at Seminole State College and the University of Iowa, Edwards’ WNBA career began as a practice player with the New York Liberty in 1997. She cracked a WNBA roster for the first time with the newly-formed Seattle Storm in 2000, becoming the first Jamaican player in the WNBA.
Edwards, also known as the Jamaican Hurricane, played six seasons with the Storm spanning from 2000-2006. The 6-foot-4 center was an integral part of the Storm’s early years and helped shape the organization for seasons to come. Edwards was a key member of the Storm’s 2004 Championship team, the first of four titles in franchise history.
When Edwards announced her retirement from the WNBA prior to the start of the 2006 season, she led the rising franchise in all-time rebounds, minutes and games played. The Storm center played a few seasons overseas before making the switch to coaching later in her career.
During her time with the Storm, she founded Simone4Children, a charitable organization to support her community in Jamaica. Simone4Children provided kids with school supplies, clothing, food and other necessary items to promote education.
Additionally, Edwards developed a women’s empowerment movement in Jamaica known as Girls Untapped. The program teamed up with a project called Generation WOW, a similar initiative in the United States. She also founded a basketball academy in Jamaica to teach children, who may not otherwise have the opportunity, the fundamentals of the game.
Edwards used her platform to support those in need, but it wasn’t limited to nonprofit work. Her memoir Unstoppable: A Memoir of Adversity, Perseverance and Triumph was written to encourage others to chase after their dreams, regardless of the obstacles standing in the way.
The Seattle community fought alongside Edwards during her two year-long battle against ovarian cancer. During Edwards’ fight, a fundraiser was put on in the Seattle area where former members of the franchise’s early years came together to raise awareness for one of their own.
Sue Bird, who spoke at the event, told the Seattle Times, “Simone is a fighter; there’s no one like her. They say certain people light up the room, well Simone is one of those people. She lights up the room. Simone has this way of making people around her feel good. That’s her gift.”
Edwards will forever be remembered across the league for her contributions to women’s basketball, and her determination to make the world a better place.
“Simone had a beautiful energy and a genuine passion for lifting the spirits of everyone around her,” said Alisha Valavanis, Storm President and CEO in a social media post when Edwards passed away in February. “We will forever remember Simone as the ‘Jamaican Hurricane,’ a true force of positivity, connection, and care.”