Former Women’s Basketball: Through foundation, Kim Perrot’s spirit is felt on MLK Day
Chad Washington, The Advertiser, January 18, 2015
Family members of former UL and WNBA point guard Kim Perrot express excitement as a banner honoring Perrot’s retired No. 12 jersey is unveiled in the arena rafters during halftime Saturday of a UL women’s basketball game at the Cajundome. Perrot played at UL from 1986-1990 and won two WNBA championships before dying of lung cancer in 1999. (Photo: Paul Kieu/The Advertiser)
While the nation celebrated the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King this weekend, Loretta Perrot Hunter had another strong person who changed lives on her mind.
The sister of the late University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball great and former Houston Comets star Kim Perrot had tears of joy all weekend long as Kim’s jersey was retired by the Ragin’ Cajuns Saturday.
Also, the family participated in the MLK parade Sunday. "It’s been like a whirlwind," Eric Carter, Loretta’s husband, said. "I haven’t had time to step back and take it all in. But as it’s winding down, it’s going to get a little bit emotional for me."
But what Loretta and the Perrot family hope to take away from this weekend is more attention to their foundation in memory of Kim and her legacy, Kim Perrot’s Vision of Life Foundation.
"I lived through tears of heartache and sorrow, but now, I’m overwhelmed," Loretta said. "I look forward to a lot of things with UL and with Kim’s Vision for Life, and we’re going to be mentoring and having intervention programs, after-school programs and not just focusing on the basketball, but the skills of life."
The foundation is a combination that Loretta and Eric, her husband, each started in Houston. It’s goal is to empower young children through community-based efforts that will "focus our youth’s strengths rather than their weaknesses," the foundation’s website says. The couple started the foundation in 2003, helping kids in the Houston area.
Loretta picked up on this when she moved to Texas when Kim was a member of the WNBA’s Houston Comets. Kim helped the Comets win two WNBA titles in 1997 and 1998, but died at the age of 32 in 1999 after a bout with lung cancer.
Loretta and Kim both grew up in Lafayette in the Truman Addition neighborhood. And now, Loretta is giving back to her own neighborhood.
"We’re doing outreach programs from the King Center," Eric said. "By my wife from being from out here, and this is where she’s from. She was born and raised here. She was playing on the streets of Truman. That’s how she got her skills. It was only right to bring it back home. "
Kim’s impact is still felt in the WNBA, even though the Comets ceased operations back in 2008. The league gives out the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award to the league’s player that shows "the ideas of sportsmanship on the court."
Meanwhile, Kim’s No. 10 jersey still hangs in Houston’s Toyota Center, along with the four championships won by the Comets and the two NBA titles won by the Rockets. And the children’s treatment center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is named "Kim’s Place" in her honor.
But now that Kim’s jersey is now hanging from the Cajundome rafters, Loretta wants Kim’s spirit to live on in Lafayette. "I plan to attend more games, and not because of the unveiling of the jersey, but I recently relocated to Lafayette," she said. "So Kim’s spirit is working through me and I want to push that energy out."
Kim’s spirit cannot equal what Martin Luther King did as far as the impact of civil rights, but both are symbols of fighting through adversity and realizing ones dreams. And Loretta hopes to develop more dreams with her foundation.
"It’s very emotional," Loretta said. "Utilizing Martin Luther King and fighting not for some people but everyone, and he had a dream, and we all should utilize his weekend as well as Kim’s weekend to follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone shatter them or tell you it will never happen. A lot of times we would put timing on our dreams or our path. But we’re not in control of that timing. I say keep pursuing it and just watch it happen. It will reveal right before you."