WNBA star Candace Parker on the strong women who influenced her and the NBA Awards

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — WNBA star Candace Parker is outspoken about the women who have influenced not just on the court, but off it, too.

One of the most prominent of those influences was late college basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt, who Parker played under for four years at the University of Tennessee.

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, Parker will honor another strong woman, who was a dear friend of her role model Summit, with the 2019 Sager Strong Award. This award is given to “an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.”

That 2019 honoree and close friend is none other than “Good Morning America” co-anchor, Robin Roberts.

“For four years and beyond Coach Summitt spoke about Robin Roberts in the highest words that you could describe somebody,” Parker said. “To be able to present this award to her really means a lot to me and I know it would mean a lot to Coach Summitt.”

Being impacted by strong female role models

Since the WNBA wasn’t around for most of Parker’s childhood, she says looked up to athletes in other sports who showed her the type of athlete she wished to become.

“Women’s soccer, and even the Magnificent Seven gymnasts put women’s sports, for my generation, on the map,” Parker said. “It was really cool to go out and pretend you were Dominque Dawes or Dominque Moceanu or Mia Hamm.”

Now, Parker is quite the influential woman herself. The WNBA star has two NCAA championships, one WNBA championship and two Olympic gold medals under her belt.

Parker broke barriers as the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and the first player to dunk multiple times in their WNBA career. On top of her success as a basketball player, she has now stepped into the booth as a commentator for ESPN.

While the list of Parker’s jobs and accomplishments is extensive, her purpose, she said, is being a mother to 10-year-old Lailaa.

Finding balance with basketball and motherhood

When Parker got pregnant shortly after she became a professional basketball player, she had the same concerns as many working moms. She worried that she would have to sacrifice one for the other, whether it giving up her love of basketball or giving up being a present mother.

That’s when, she said, Summitt stepped up to help her not only develop as an athlete, but as a mother.

“She basically showed me that you can have both. You can have a family and you can have a career and you can give to both,” Parker said. “That was huge for me, being able to see her do that as a role model.”

Parker said finding the balance came from realizing she needed both her love of basketball and love for her daughter for her own happiness.

“We’re better when we’re happy with ourselves,” Parker said. “Everybody has mom guilt. I feel so guilty when I leave my child. But she understands that in order to be the best mom to her I have to be happy. It’s OK to continue to make yourself happy.”

Working to raise a strong woman

While her views of happiness have changed since having Lailaa, so has her purpose. Parker said being a strong female athlete is now “greater than me.”

As Lailaa grows, Parker hopes to not only be a role model for her daughter herself, but surround her the same types influential women who helped her be the person she is today.

“My daughter has grown up around so many strong, independent, free-thinking women that I don’t think she understands the limitations that are put on her. She doesn’t feel them,” Parker said.

“I want her to keep this little sliver of innocence,” she continued. “If you didn’t feel that you couldn’t do something or someone was limiting you or putting you in a box, imagine the amount of things that you could do.”

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As America takes on Spain in World Cup, fans are already inspired

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images(LE HAVRE, France) — As the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) gears up for its first game in the knockout round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Americans in France are super excited for the players.

“They’re really inspiring and, just — it’s [great] to see them play,” Leah Beaubien, an 11-year-old from Avondale Estates, Ga., told ABC News outside the stadium in Le Havre before last Thursday’s match against Sweden. “It makes me really happy, and you know, it’s just really inspiring.”

Her friend Ella Pearson, 12, from Decatur, Ga., agreed that it was “very exciting.”

“They’ve had some obstacles in their life, but they just had to face them and move on, and I just think that’s really inspiring to all of us and to fans,” Leah explained.

The USWNT has been making an historic run in this World Cup, which started with a record-breaking win over Thailand.

The team’s push for the cup continues Monday with a match against Spain at noon E.T. Now that they’re in the knockout stage, the defending world champions face elimination with each game until the end of the tournament.

Meanwhile, scores of Americans have flooded France to watch the athletes. Parents are bringing their kids, some of whom are soccer players themselves.

“Any time I watch each one of them play, it comes out in my own game,” said Finley Scott, 12, of Illinois, explaining how she’ll mimic Julie Ertz or Alex Morgan to get around defenders to score.

Plus, her friend Lucy Corley, also 12, added, “If something bad happens, they’re also really good role models. It teaches us good things [about] how to play the sport.”

“They inspire us to dream big and stuff,” said 11-year-old Sole Corley.

Like many American fans out to see the matches in France, Lucy and Finley are not just invested in the USWNT’s on-field play; they’re also following the women’s fight for gender equity. They had with them a sign reading “better play, equal pay” although World Cup security bars signs in the stadium, so they had to leave it in the car.

The women are teaching them, Lucy said, “if you want something to fight for it.”

Over the weekend, a spokesperson from U.S. Soccer confirmed to ABC News that the USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation tentatively agreed to mediation in the gender discrimination lawsuit 2015 team members filed in March.

“The women are paid under a different structure than the men, which they preferred and specifically negotiated for, but that doesn’t mean they are compensated less by U.S. Soccer,” a U.S. Soccer spokesperson told ABC News. “We will readily admit that FIFA pays more prize money out to the Men’s World Cup than the Women’s World Cup, and we support FIFA increasing prize money for the Women’s World Cup, even beyond the fact the prize money was doubled for 2019.”

Although there are differences in the men’s and women’s contracts, many of the fans in France see equal pay as a simple answer.

“They’re working just as hard; they’re having more success. They deserve at least equal pay,” said Jon Chambers, who came to France from the Bay Area along with his wife and their two teenage sons.

Regardless how the lawsuit goes, fans know this tournament will have a lasting impact.

“I think it’s great for girls,” said Lisa Little of Austin, Texas. “I think it’s great for them to see how powerful these girls can be and how they work so hard to be successful. I think they’re a great influence for younger girls.”

For Sue Holliday and her daughter, Rebecca Holiday, 22, coming to the World Cup together is fulfilling a “dream” for Rebecca, who grew up playing soccer and following the team. The trip is even sweeter as she’s about to graduate college.

“Our whole family loves soccer and this is a trip of a lifetime and spending it with Rebecca was priceless,” Sue Holiday told ABC News.

Monday’s match against Spain will be broadcast on FS1 and Telemundo.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Woman hospitalized after being hit by foul ball at Dodgers game

cmannphoto/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A baseball fan was hospitalized Sunday after being struck by a foul ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger.

The incident happened at Dodger Stadium during the first inning of the Dodgers’ game against the Colorado Rockies. The woman who was hit by the line drive was seated four rows from the field, just outside the protective netting.

After being struck by the ball, the woman was immediately treated in the stands but she was later transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

Sunday’s incident comes just one month after a little girl was struck by a foul ball at a Chicago Cubs game, raising the question whether Major League Baseball is doing enough to protect its fans.

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Scoreboard roundup — 6/23/19

iStock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Sunday’s sports events:


LA Angels 6,  St. Louis 4

Toronto 6, Boston 1
Cleveland 8, Detroit 3
Houston 9,  NY Yankees 4
Kansas City 6, Minnesota 1
Texas 7, Chi White Sox 4
Tampa Bay 8, Oakland 2
Seattle 13, Baltimore 3

Miami 6, Philadelphia 4
Atlanta 4, Washington 3, 10 Innings
Pittsburgh 11, San Diego 10, 11 Innings
Milwaukee 7, Cincinnati 5
Chi Cubs 5, NY Mets 3
Arizona 3, San Francisco 2, 10 Innings
LA Dodgers 6, Colorado 3

Washington 89, Atlanta 73
Chicago 93, Connecticut 75
Phoenix 82, LA Sparks 72
Seattle 65, Indiana 61

Kansas City 1, Columbus 0

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Air Canada investigating after passenger left asleep on empty plane

Jetlinerimages/iStock(TORONTO) — A sleeping passenger was left on board an Air Canada flight earlier this month hours after the plane had landed and the crew disembarked.

Tiffani O’Brien, of Ontario, Canada, said she fell asleep in an empty row of seats on her short flight home from Quebec City to Toronto. She awoke hours later around midnight still strapped to her seat and all alone on a cold, dark plane.

“It was completely pitch black,” O’Brien said in an interview Monday with CTV News. “I thought, ‘This is a nightmare, this is not happening!'”

O’Brien said she texted her friend, Deanna Dale, who drove her to the airport in Quebec City earlier that day. Dale told CTV News she called customer service at Toronto Pearson International Airport to tell them her friend was trapped on the plane.

But then O’Brien’s phone lost battery power and a “sheer sense of hopelessness” came over her, she told CTV News.

As panic began to set in, O’Brien said she entered the cockpit to search for something, anything that might help. She found a flashlight and turned it on, directing the light out of the windows of the plane in hopes someone would see it.

She then used the flashlight to find the main door of the plane and managed to get it open, but the drop to the tarmac below was too steep.

So she sat in the opening with her legs dangling out and flashed the light on the side of the plane to create a reflection, hoping it would catch someone’s attention in the distance.

Eventually, a grounds crewman driving a luggage cart spotted her and helped her down.

O’Brien recounted the incident in a June 19 post shared by Dale on Air Canada’s official Facebook page.

“I haven’t got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I’m alone locked up someplace dark,” O’Brien wrote.

An Air Canada spokesperson confirmed the incident to ABC News and said the airline is investigating.

“This customer was left on our aircraft after the flight,” the spokesperson said in a statement Sunday. “We are still reviewing this matter so I have no additional details to share, but we have followed up with the customer and remain in contact with her.”

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Bodies of seven missing climbers in Indian Himalayas recovered, officials say

deeltijdgod/iStock(NEW DELHI) — The bodies of seven climbers who went missing in the Himalayas within India last month have been recovered, officials said.

A search team from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police retrieved the bodies on Sunday at an altitude of 5,800 meters (about 19,000 feet) to the base camp, according to Vijay Jogdande, an administrator of northern India’s Uttarakhand state. It will take two to three days to return them to base camp.

The bodies have not yet been identified, but Jogdande told ABC News that a woman and an Indian man were among them.

The search for the missing eighth climber continues, Jogdande added.

The eight-member group, led by British mountaineer Martin Moran, set out on May 13 to attempt to summit a previously unclimbed, unnamed eastern peak on Nanda Devi, the second-highest mountain in India, part of the Garhwal Himalayas.

Moran’s Scotland-based company, Moran Mountain, said its last communication with the team was on May 24. They were supposed to return to base camp two days later, but never did. There had been avalanches in the region.

The group was composed of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and a man from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, a national body, according to Pithoragarh Additional District Magistrate R.D. Paliwal.

An official with the U.S. Department of State said they are “aware of reports of a recovery option underway” for the two Americans and the other climbers, but referred ABC News to local authorities for further questions.

Local authorities weren’t alerted of the party’s absence until May 31. A search team in helicopters spotted five bodies and several empty red tents June 3.

It has been a particularly deadly season for climbers in the Himalayas this year, especially on the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, where short windows of safe climbing weather on the Nepal side paired with crowds and inexperienced adventurers have contributed to numerous deaths.

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Severe weather threatens 50 million from Wisconsin to Georgia

ABC News(NEW YORK) — More than 200 severe weather reports stretching from the Plains to the Southeast on Sunday included a reported tornado near South Bend, Indiana, that damaged a building but injured no one.

About 4 to 6 inches of rain fell in southwest Missouri in fewer than six hours, resulting in a flash flood emergency for parts of that area. Devastating flash flooding was reported in Newton and McDonald counties.

Heavy rain — more than 4 inches locally, in parts — also was reported in Kansas. The town of Ellsworth reported hail as large as hens’ eggs. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported from Texas to Indiana.

Radar on Monday morning showed a line of strong to severe storms from Texas to Tennessee, with very heavy rain and locally damaging winds.

The severe weather should slide south into parts of southeast Texas and Louisiana later Monday morning, but the storms are forecast to lose some of their intensity.

This weather is part of a slow-moving storm that’s heading through the central and eastern U.S. As the storm’s warmer sector moves toward parts of the Midwest and Appalachia, more severe weather is expected.

Cities including Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh all could be at risk for strong wind and large hail — possibly a brief tornado — in the radar map’s “slight risk” region.

More severe weather on Tuesday is likely in parts of the Midwest, with strong winds, large hail and brief tornadoes possible.

The Southeast is heating up. Temperatures and humidity will be on the rise Monday and Tuesday, when Heat Index values will reach triple digits from New Orleans to Miami.

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Arkansas medical school student recalls blacking out before friend’s killing

Jessy Pacheco/Facebook(NEW YORK) — An Arkansas native attending medical school in Mexico spoke publicly for the first time since his apparent kidnapping last week, but the Sunday press conference seemed to offer more questions than answers.

Jessy Pacheco, of Van Buren, Arkansas, and Carlos Alejandro Delgadillo Romero, also an American citizen and student at Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, vanished after a graduation celebration on June 15.

Romero was found beaten and shot to death two days later, and Mexican authorities feared Pacheco may have suffered a similar fate. But things took a twist when Pacheco boarded a Dallas-bound flight with his mother, later saying he had no recollection of what had happened to his friend.

On Sunday, Pacheco said he “blacked out” after leaving a graduation celebration at a nightclub in Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara. He said the “complete blackout” left him scrambling for answers and that he couldn’t remember anything between the celebration and boarding a plane in Mexico.

“All my family, friends were there. We were just celebrating and next thing you know [I] blacked out,” he said during a news conference alongside his family. “I thought my life was over.”

Pacheco, who attended the university’s medical school for 2 1/2 years but finished his residency in Arkansas, said he hadn’t spoken with Mexican authorities since returning to the U.S.

“There are things that we don’t know, and that’s what they [authorities] are trying to figure out because we just don’t know,” Pacheco said.

“We don’t know who he was with, who had him,” his mother, Vilma Franco, added. “We don’t know nothing.”

His family declined to say how they made contact with Pacheco in Mexico.

Authorities previously said they believed Pacheco’s disappearance and his friend’s killing occurred in the Providencia neighborhood of Guadalajara on Saturday, according to a statement from the Jalisco State Prosecutor’s Office.

Romero, a California native, was found beaten and shot to death a few blocks away from where he was last seen alive, authorities said.

No arrests have been made in the case.

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Is Taylor Swift trademarking her new kitten, Benjamin Button?

Valheria RochaYou’re not officially part of Taylor Swift’s cat family until you get trademarked.

After previously trademarking “Meredith & Olivia Swift” — the names of her first two cats — Taylor is now reportedly working on a trademark that includes her newest kitty, Benjamin Button.

According to TMZ, she has applied for a trademark of “Meredith, Olivia & Benjamin Swift.” This legal move will allow her to cash in on merch featuring all three of her prized pets.

Last year, Taylor put Meredith and Olivia’s likenesses on t-shirts, earrings, pens, makeup cases and stickers, which then became available for sale on her website.

She added Benjamin to her family this year after falling in love with the kitten on the set of her music video for “ME!”

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“American Idol” runner-up Alejandro Aranda announces new single, fall tour dates

ABC/Eric McCandlessLaine Hardy may have won American Idol, but runner-up Alejandro Aranda has already announced a new single and a fall headlining tour.

Performing under the name Scarypoolparty, Alejandro will be releasing his first single, “Tonight,” this Friday. He first performed the original tune on the American Idol finale back in May.

After immediately selling out his first run of solo acoustic summer tour dates shortly after Idol concluded, the singer-songwriter will now be embarking on a U.S. tour with a full band.

The trek kicks off October 10 in Berkeley, CA and includes shows at New York’s Playstation Theatre and Chicago’s Vic Theatre, before wrapping November 21 at L.A.’s Belasco Theatre.

Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, June 28 at 10 a.m. local time.

Alejandro’s solo acoustic dates begin July 8 in Washington, D.C. and will wrap July 17 in his hometown of Pomona, CA.

Here’s the list of new fall dates:

10/10 — Berkeley, CA, The UC Theatre
10/11 — Sacramento, CA, Ace of Spades
10/13 — Portland, OR, Crystal Ballroom
10/14 — Seattle, WA, Neptune Theatre
10/16 — Salt Lake City, UT, The Depot
10/18 — Aspen, CO, Belly Up
10/19 — Boulder, CO, Fox Theatre
10/21 — Kansas City, MO, The Truman
10/22 — Minneapolis, MN, First Avenue
10/23 — Chicago, IL, Vic Theatre
10/25 — Detroit, MI, Majestic Theatre
10/26 — Cleveland, OH, House of Blues
10/28 — New York, NY, Playstation Theatre
10/29 — Philadelphia, PA, Union Transfer
10/30 — Boston, MA, Royale
11/1 — Baltimore, MD, Baltimore Sound Stage
11/3 — Charlottesville, VA, Jefferson Theatre
11/4 — Raleigh, NC, Lincoln Theatre
11/5 — Charlotte, NC, The Underground
11/7 — Atlanta, GA, Buckhead Theatre
11/9 — Orlando, FL, The Plaza Live
11/10 — Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Revolution
11/12 — New Orleans, LA, House of Blues
11/13 — Houston, TX, White Oak Music Hall
11/15 — Austin, TX, Emo’s
11/16 — Dallas, TX, House of Blues
11/19 — San Diego, CA, House of Blues
11/21 — Los Angeles, CA, Belasco Theatre

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