Dawn Staley was a Hall of Famer as a player. She is the head coach of the No. 1 team in the nation. But, most important of all, she is an incredible human being.
Sometimes Staley's efforts on a personal level get lost in the shuffle of her past playing career and her job, but Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott wants everybody to know just how special she is behind the scenes.
"(Today) she's not going to be judged by how many victories she has, or how many gold medals she has, today she's going to be judged by the heart of gold that she has, particularly for kids," Lott said. "She does so much in our community for kids that people just don't even know about."
Lott made these comments in a ceremony at the Carolina Coliseum just a mere minutes after the No. 1 Gamecocks had finished a practice in preparation for their top-25 showdown with No. 21 Georgia in Athens, Ga. at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.
The impromptu ceremony with the media was held on Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the Carolina Coliseum to allow Lott the chance to swear Staley in as an Honorary Deputy Sheriff of the Richland County Sheriff's Department.
"Coach Staley believes in people, particularly our kids, and that life's more than just victories on a basketball court and gold medals, it's about helping people," Lott remarked. "Same mission we have at the Sheriff's department. Our job and mission is not to see how many people we can go and lock up, it's how many people we can help."
As part of being sworn in as an Honorary Deputy, Staley received a badge, an ID card and official plaque commemorating her being a part of the Richland County Sheriff's Department. She also even received a special "blue light" cord resembling a siren.
"Coach, we're so proud of what you've done," Lott said in closing. "Not so much with this team, but what what you do in the community, what you do with our kids and we're glad that you're a part of this community and we appreciate all that you do and you are now an official member of the Richland County Sheriff's Department family."
Taken aback by the gesture, Staley immediately after receiving her badge joked, "does this come with privileges?"
"Sheriff Lott has become a great friend," Staley told those in attendance of the special recognition. "He and his family … they've all been tremendous to our program. I think it is a tremendous honor to represent the Sheriff's department for all it does for so many people and making sure our communities are safe places to live and to play."
**Story by Brian Hand/Pictured is Lott with Staley**