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They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hardwood


In unflinchingly honest prose, Sugar Rodgers shares her inspiring story of overcoming tremendous odds to become an all-star in the WNBA.

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*While supplies last, books ordered through the website will include a bookplate SIGNED by Sugar Rodgers

$15.95 $11.96

What people are saying…

“WNBA All-Star Sugar Rodgers doesn’t hold back in her memoir . . . Friends and family have long encouraged Rodgers to share her incredible story.”
New York Amsterdam News

They Better Call Me Sugar is fabulous—so infinitely readable and engaging. Sugar Rodgers is such a clear-eyed and thoughtful writer and a huge inspiration. There are so many young people I can’t wait to give this book to.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming, former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

“Sugar’s life hasn’t always been so sweet, but she’s using her story to help others on and off the court . . . by offering a compelling message of perseverance through her book, They Better Call Me Sugar: My Journey from the Hood to the Hardwood.”
Suffolk News-Herald

“If it is one thing many of us have been doing a lot lately is spending more time curling up with favorite books of ours. Our book games have been strong lately and that is always a positive. Here is a very athletic way to heighten that need for read—add a dash of Sugar to your bookshelves.”
Beyond the W

“Rodgers wrote the book for her younger self, but the book is perfect for young readers, starting in middle school, and also young athletes. Rodgers’ goal is to use her toughest moments to inspire those who read it.”
The Black Sportswoman

“Rodgers’s childhood and conflicts are ones many readers will be able to identify with and find hope in her motivation.”
School Library Journal

“WNBA All-Star Sugar Rodgers shares her story of growing up, poverty, family life, school, sports, friends, and how she eventually shaped a successful career as a professional basketball player for herself.”
—YALSA’s The Hub, A Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Featured Review

“In her inspiring and candid debut memoir, WNBA star Sugar Rodgers opens up about her challenging youth and her path to college, a successful career and a fulfilling, empowered life.”
Ms. Magazine

“Rodgers’ memoir . . . personally details a young girl growing up in dire poverty in Suffolk, Va., who lost her mother when she was a teenager, saw both of her siblings go in and out of prison, and witnessed shootings in her neighborhood. Yet she kept on striving.”
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

“Describing her upbringing under less-than-ideal conditions in Suffolk, [Sugar’s book] has gotten some quality reviews.”

“An inherently compelling memoir . . . A simply fascinating and ultimately inspiring story.”
Midwest Book Review

One of 20 Must-Read 2021 Books, selected by WomenSport International Newsletter

One of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2022)!

“Rodgers pulls no punches in this raw, emotional rags-to-riches memoir.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Rodgers] now has a new goal: sharing her story with others. She certainly accomplishes that in this raw, compelling memoir of a girl growing up in difficult circumstances but with the wits, confidence, and drive that made her an All-Star. An inspiring autobiography.”

“WNBA champion Rodgers reflects on her childhood and road to athletic glory . . . Encouraging tidbits will stay with readers, such as, ‘Stars are stars because they work hard even when the lights are not on’ . . . This memoir . . . has a bold bounce.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The memoir is filled with anecdotes and memories from her childhood on, written in short, easy to read chapters . . . I would recommend They Better Call Me Sugar to young teenage girls who are seeking a role model or girls who are interested in sports careers. It will resonate and inspire them.”
The Cyberlibrarian

“Sugar Rodgers’s story will be inspirational not only for young girls, not only for young athletes, but for everyone. You never know the mountains people have to climb to reach the level of success they have achieved.”
—Etan Thomas, former NBA player, author of We Matter: Athletes and Activism

“Having had the privilege of playing and working with Sugar Rodgers, I’ve been blessed with a front row seat to watch her grow into the woman she is today. My hope and prayer is that everyone, both young and old, gets an opportunity to read this book and let Sugar—the athlete, the woman, the survivor—have as much of an impact on their lives as she has had on mine.”
—Swin Cash, three-time WNBA champion, VP of Basketball Operations with the New Orleans Pelicans

“It would be too easy to say that Sugar Rodgers’s memoir is a slam dunk. It’s more than that—it’s a three-pointer from deep. If you want to know what it takes to shoot for your dreams in sports and in life, read this book.”
—C.J. Farley, author of Around Harvard Square

They Better Call Me Sugar delivers an empowering testimony that takes the reader into the visual life of Sugar Rodgers along with her journey of loss, laughter, growth, courage, and success. As an English teacher, I have read many books over the years. However, this book is now number one on my list as the BEST book that I have ever read. I cried, laughed and felt every word on every page. It will be a book that transforms the lives of many teenagers and young adults for the future.”
—Ariane Williams, English teacher, Deep Creek High School (Chesapeake, VA)

Included in Publishers Weekly‘s Spring 2021 Children’s Announcements!


Interest Level: 11 and up | Grade level: Middle School–Adult | Lexile Level: 900L | Guided Reading Level: Z+

*While supplies last, paperback editions of They Better Call Me Sugar ordered through the website will include a bookplate SIGNED by Sugar Rodgers

Part of our Black Sheep imprint for young readers.

Growing up in dire poverty in Suffolk, Virginia, Sugar (born Ta’Shauna) Rodgers never imagined that she would become an all-star player in the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association). Both of her siblings were in and out of prison throughout much of her childhood and shootings in her neighborhood were commonplace. For Sugar this was just a fact of life.

While academics wasn’t a high priority for Sugar and many of her friends, athletics always played a prominent role. She mastered her three-point shot on a net her brother put up just outside their home, eventually becoming so good that she could hustle local drug dealers out of money in one-on-one contests.

With the love and support of her family and friends, Sugar’s performance on her high school basketball team led to her recruitment by the Georgetown Hoyas, and her eventual draft into the WNBA in 2013 by the Minnesota Lynx (who won the WNBA Finals in Sugar’s first year). The first of her family to attend college, Sugar speaks of her struggles both academically and as an athlete with raw honesty.

Sugar’s road to a successful career as a professional basketball player is fraught with sadness and death—including her mother’s death when she’s fourteen, which leaves Sugar essentially homeless. Throughout it all, Sugar clings to basketball as a way to keep herself focused and sane.

And now Sugar shares her story as a message of hope and inspiration for young girls and boys everywhere, but especially those growing up in economically challenging conditions. Never sugarcoating her life experiences, she delivers a powerful message of discipline, perseverance, and always believing in oneself.

Read a feature on Sugar Rodgers at the New York Times and at the Georgetown Voice.

Listen to an interview with Sugar Rodgers at the Hoya Insider Podcast (Georgetown).

Read an interview with Sugar Rodgers at The Black Sportswoman


Book Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Published: 5/4/21
  • IBSN: 9781617759291
  • e-IBSN: 9781617759710
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781636140131


SUGAR RODGERS is a professional basketball player and current Assistant Coach for the Las Vegas Aces. She honed her skills as a young girl growing up in Suffolk, VA, by shooting hoops with neighborhood drug dealers before eventually being recruited by the Georgetown Hoyas, making her the first person in her family to attend college. She graduated Georgetown as the leading scorer of all time, and was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx in 2013. She also played several seasons with the New York Liberty before being traded to Las Vegas in 2019. She was named to the WNBA All-Star team for her 2017 season with the New York Liberty. They Better Call Me Sugar is her latest work.

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