Latasha Nashay Byears (born August 12, 1973 in Memphis, Tennessee) is a professional women's basketball player who plays for the Houston Comets in the WNBA. Byears, who previously played for the Sacramento Monarchs, the Los Angeles Sparks, and the Washington Mystics, ranked eighth all-time in field goal percentage (.514) and was among the top 10 rebounders in the league's history as of 2003.
Nicknamed "Tot", Byears usually played the position of power forward. However, the openly lesbian Byears became more well known for her troubles on and off the basketball court.
In November 2006 Byears joined the Bulgarian team of CSKA Sofia.
Byears grew up in Millington, Tennessee and went to high school in nearby Arlington, Tennessee. Afterwards, Byears played two years in Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, located in Miami, Oklahoma. She later transferred to DePaul University in Chicago, where she averaged 22.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game during the 1995-1996 season, a performance that earned her a first team All-American.
Despite not being selected at the first WNBA Draft, the Sacramento Monarchs invited Byears to their training camp prior to their inaugural season in 1997. Byears then starred for the Monarchs for the next four seasons, making headlines for her rough play, including throwing a ball at the face of Seattle Storm player Michelle Marciniak.
Byears was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks after the 2000 season ended, where she excelled. However, following a June 5, 2003 Sparks game, Byears and three men unconnected to the Sparks were investigated for an alleged rape of a WNBA player. Byears was cut by the Sparks at the beginning of the season. Four months later, in light of Kobe Bryant's rape allegations and how the Los Angeles Lakers, who owned the Sparks at the time, supported Bryant during the allegations, Byears sued the Lakers, accusing the team of double standards. The criminal proceedings would eventually be closed in August 2005 due to insufficient evidence, and Byears's lawsuit against the Lakers was settled just months later. Shortly after settling the lawsuit, Byears returned to the WNBA after a two-year absence, signing with the Mystics.
In 2007, Byears signed a free agent contract with the Houston Comets, she was briefly waived in 2008, before being re-signed after an unimpressive start by the team.
- WNBA Player Profile
- USA Today sexual assault article
- ESPN article on her hopes for returning to the WNBA
- ESPN article on her return to the WNBA
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