TAMPA, Fla. — Medina Turner, a former University of Georgia basketball athlete, has been named as the first recipient of the NCAA Perseverance Award.
The Perseverance Award honors a student-athlete, coach or administrator from the host city of the Women’s Final Four who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, pushed past the obstacles and showed determination to succeed. Turner was presented with the award Sunday evening during the Women’s Final Four at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
Turner’s journey began at the University of Georgia playing under women’s basketball coach Andy Landers. In her senior year, Turner was the team leader in rebounds with an average of 7.9 per game and was the second leading scorer. She led the Lady Bulldogs to the championship game of the 1993 Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament and to the round of 32 in the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship that same year.
Turner left Georgia before finishing her degree to pursue a professional basketball career overseas. Three years later, she made the decision to retire from the sport and move to Tampa, Florida, to care for her sister, Gloria Rene Turner, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Gloria lost her battle with the disease in 2001, leaving behind two boys that Medina adopted and became their legal guardian. Shortly after the loss of her sister, Medina’s father, Robert Turner, fell ill and succumbed to liver cancer. A few years later, she fell on hard times and her home went into foreclosure, forcing the family to become homeless.
Turner arrived at Metropolitan Ministries in Tampa in 2013 to get back on the right track. Since then, she has joined Uplift U, a residential program designed to help homeless families and women become more self-sufficient. She was also accepted to the University of Florida’s Social Work program and is on track to graduate in 2016. Having saved enough money to become self-sufficient again, Turner and her two sons will move out of Metropolitan Ministries and into a home of their own in April.
To inspire and give hope to many in the same life situation as what she experienced, Turner wrote a detailed account of her journey titled “Never Give Up.”