2023 NCAA women’s basketball champion and ESPY award-winning athlete Angel Reese continued to receive a warm welcome in Baltimore this week as Mayor Brandon Scott presented her with a ceremonial key to the city Tuesday afternoon.
Reese grew up in Randallstown, but graduated from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore City, where she played basketball throughout her high school career.
“We are here to honor someone who is no stranger to our community,” Scott said Tuesday. “While she lays her head in Baltimore County, she embodies the spirit of Baltimore City, has our swag, our style, and our passion for the game of Baltimore that we know you can find nowhere else on this planet.”
Scott presented Reese with a key, which he said “symbolizes the countless hours of hard work and tremendous sacrifices that you have made in the city of Baltimore, for the city of Baltimore, and for the sport of women’s basketball.”
The City Hall dome will also be lit up purple and gold – the colors of Reese’s Louisiana State University – in honor of the basketball star, Scott said.
Reese thanked Baltimore for its support throughout her basketball career. She said she wants to set an example for youth of what they can accomplish.
“My moment right now is just for the girls that look up to me and being able to be unapologetically me, not standing in a box, breaking the narrative of being able to be a Black woman in sports, and being able to standing up her ground,” she said. “Hopefully this gives hope to you guys, everybody that looks up to me, boys and girls, and hopefully I can run it back next year.”
City Council President Nick Mosby presented a proclamation from the City Council to Reese.
“Obviously the mayor gets to bring a lot of celebrities through City Hall, but there was only one I wanted to meet and that’s the Bayou Barbie,” Mosby said, referring to Reese’s nickname.
Mosby said his daughter is a “super duper fan” of Reese and tunes into all her games and other appearances.
“All your lives after every single game during the Final Four, during the championship, she stood up and watched you for an hour, go through the locker room, go through your press conference and everything,” he said.
Mosby added that as a father of a young girl, he is grateful his daughter has someone like Reese as a role model.
“It’s one thing to talk about little girls looking up to you,” he said. “But it’s another thing when you have the father who is seeing their daughter literally look up to you and watch every step that you take. For you to be the Bayou Barbie and carry Baltimore on your back every step of the way, we truly thank you for that.”
After initially attending University of Maryland, last year Reese transferred to Louisiana State University. There, she helped lead the LSU Tigers women’s basketball team to become 2023 NCAA national champions. Earlier this month, Reese also won a 2023 ESPY award for Breakout Athlete.
“To say Angel has left an undeniable mark on the court is an understatement,” Scott said. “She has captured the hearts of this country and of course our city, and it’s a testament of perseverance to reach the pinnacle of success. Across our city, young women admire you, Angel. She is someone that understands that talent is not enough. Talent will only get you so far. Relentless pursuit of improvement is what sets her apart. That’s where the true greatness comes from.”
Earlier this year, fans slammed Reese, who is Black, for her trash talking, while one of her white competitors was praised for similar behavior.
Reese acknowledged the double standard in a press conference in April.
“I don’t fit the narrative,” she said at the time. “I don’t fit the box that y’all want me to be in. I’m ‘too hood.’ I’m ‘too ghetto.’ Y’all told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all don’t say nothing. So this one’s for the girls that look like me … that’s going to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you.”
Scott commended Reese for her authenticity on and off the court.
“She is unapologetically passionate, unapologetically a Black woman, and isn’t afraid of a little competition and of course, my favorite, loves a little smack talk,” he said. “She talks trash on the court because you can back it up. You have to be able to back it up when you talk.”
The mayor also acknowledged the differences in how women in sports, particularly Black women, are often treated compared to men.
“The reality is is that we know that men who play basketball talk trash each and every time up the court,” Scott said. “When you think about the greats – be it Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, or Mayor Brandon Scott on the basketball court – trash will be talked. We have to understand that it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman; hoopers are hoopers, and hoopers are going to talk trash. So we should allow our young women like Angels and others and all of our great talented basketball players who just happen to be women do the same thing that the men do and not hold that in a different regard.”
Baltimore County on Monday dedicated a basketball court to Reese in her hometown. The court at Scotts Branch Recreation Activity Center in Randallstown is now known as “Angel Reese Court.”
Athleticwear brand DTLR also partnered with Reese for a meet-and-greet event Monday where they sold T-shirts with Reese’s nickname, “Bayou Barbie,” with the proceeds supporting women’s basketball at Reese’s alma mater, St. Frances Academy.
Reese also threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles game Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.