Former Gamecock La'Keisha Sutton is Now a Globetrotter and Author
La’Keisha Sutton (2008-2012) continues to build an impressive personal brand, and the former South Carolina women’s basketball standout has expanded her reach for inspiring others. She recently published her first book and is also a member of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters after a friend convinced her to audition earlier this year.
“It’s such a great opportunity to be part of such a historic organization,” said Sutton, whose Globetrotter stage name is Swish. “The Globetrotters have been around for more than 90 years. It’s an honor. I don’t think any other female from New Jersey has had this opportunity. I don’t take it for granted. The first time I put on that jersey, it was surreal. I realized that it’s a lot bigger than me. I’m joining an organization full of super-talented players, but more importantly, great people.
“Just seeing the smiles on the faces of the families and seeing people laugh and have a good time is the best part. It’s all about meeting people in different cities. The first time I put on the uniform felt like the first time I put on my college uniform. I’m enjoying being on our Fan Powered World Tour.”
Being a trailblazer and a role model is what Sutton’s career has been for a long time now. After growing up in the projects, the Trenton, New Jersey, native was Dawn Staley’s first recruit when she took the job as head coach at South Carolina prior to the 2008-2009 season. Known for her fearlessness and play-making ability, Sutton helped Staley’s program rise in each of her four years with the Gamecocks, capped by an impressive run to the Sweet 16 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament for her senior year.
“My main goal is to be the person that I needed in my life when I was a kid.”
– La’Keisha Sutton
Now 28 years old, Sutton hopes to inspire others who grew up like she did with everything she does.
“I just want to give back. It may not always be with money, but it can be support, encouragement, or inspiration,” Sutton said. “My main goal is to be the person that I needed in my life when I was a kid, whether it’s someone to look up to or someone to talk to. I didn’t always have that. So, I try to be that for other people.”
After graduating with a degree in broadcast communications, Sutton spent time playing professional basketball overseas, but she had other goals for success as well. Constantly working in the community, she combined her love of basketball with a sharp self-taught business acumen, and in 2013 she launched her own clothing apparel line named Fan Favorite, which she describes as more than a brand.
“It’s a lifestyle brand, and it’s doing great,” Sutton said. “I’ve been able to sponsor some local high schools. I’ve been able to put kids on a plane for the first time and create uniforms for some local teams. Some teams don’t have access to big contracts with Nike, Under Armour or Adidas, so I’m in negotiations with some teams.
“It takes a lot to take a risk and become an entrepreneur. What inspired me with Fan Favorite was just to have ownership as an adult and leaving something behind for my family and my community to benefit from when I’m long gone.”
Photo from Lamar Cali Visuals
Sutton educated herself in the world of business and studied various business plans before coming up with the Fan Favorite brand. Former South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson had given her the “Fan Favorite” nickname when Sutton was a freshman and was considering going back home.
Sutton spends a lot of time as a motivational speaker, which led her to write her first book, From the Projects to Fan Favorite, which was released on September 10.
“I released it on my mom’s birthday,” Sutton said. “I was super-excited because I published it myself. It’s available on my web site, thefanfavorite.net, and it will be signed by me, personally. It wasn’t really that hard. I don’t know if anyone would believe it, but I wrote it in about two days. I’m always writing in a notebook. A lot of fans on social media ask me the same questions over and over, so I took every question and started answering them. I restructured it into the book.
“I just enjoy being able to share stories and experiences that helped me get to where I am today as a professional athlete, as an entrepreneur, and as motivational person. I wasn’t born into a family legacy or family company. I didn’t have a red carpet laid out for me when I graduated from college. I had to figure it out.”
Now that the book is out, Sutton isn’t just sitting back and waiting for copies to fly off the shelf. She is reaching out to the local school district in New Jersey to try to make it required reading for young students.
“That would be the biggest-ever dream come true, if I could make that happen,” Sutton said. “I did a school tour of every school in the area last year. I did some interactive workshops and appeared at assemblies. To make this happen the superintendent and some teachers have to read it to see if it makes sense to put into their curriculum.”
Sutton is a role model, but she’s not looking for personal gain with the attention she receives.
“I consider myself hope for others in that I can show them anything is possible,” Sutton said. “It can happen. A lot of people look for outsiders to come in and save them, but I’m a walking testimony that you have to save yourself. If you’re doing the right things, then the right people will eventually come into your life to help you take it to another level. That’s what’s been happening for me.
“I don’t know what God has planned for me in the future, but I think I’ll be prepared.”
Sutton doesn’t know for sure yet whether she will be part of the Globetrotter unit that is performing at South Carolina’s Colonial Life Arena on January 11. While she would love to entertain fans in her former venue, “Swish” is still humble when asked if she would try to teach her former coach a few tricks.
“No, no. Coach Staley is the original fan favorite. She knows how to do everything. I might need her to teach me some stuff.”
Sutton invites fans to keep up with her on social media by searching for “fanfavorite11.”