Wright, dad glad to be back to being a team

Father of the third-year guard suffered a heart attack last summer.

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Lynx guard Monica Wright will have plenty of family on hand Wednesday when the Lynx play in Washington.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Lynx guard Monica Wright expects to see a lot of family members and friends Wednesday night when the Lynx play the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center, a short drive from her parents' home. Her father, Garry, has invited nearly everyone he knows to be there.

"So many people, it's crazy," his only daughter said.

He's a proud dad. And Monica is thankful he will be there.

Last summer Garry Wright, 58, had a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest. He survived but was unconscious for five days. He also suffered a minor stroke.

Wright missed five Lynx games between July 29 and Aug. 7 last season to be with her father. She was in his hospital room whenever permitted and snuck in a few other times. "Me and my dad are very close. I am Daddy's girl," she said.

When she was a toddler, her father would take her to the gym when he played basketball. Later, when she became a three-sport athlete, it was his turn to watch her. He took her to practices and to tournaments on weekends.

"He was a very involved parent, very hands-on with everything in my life," Wright said.

Actually, he still is. They talk daily by phone.

"When he was still unconscious, it was hard for me to leave," Wright said. "It was very stressful, but I put all my faith in God and definitely looked to him for a lot of strength."

Her prayers were answered.

"I'm doing very well, getting my strength back," Garry Wright said. "I was very blessed. My doctors keep telling me most people are not in the right place."

Wright, an administrative assistant in the Department of Energy, was at his desk when a blood clot in his leg caused his heart attack. A co-worker had taken CPR training and used a defibrillator to shock him several times.

After her father got better last summer, Wright rejoined the Lynx. She was shaken a bit but played better the rest of the regular season. Her shooting and scoring average improved.

"It is definitely something that has made me mature a lot," Wright said. "That type of situation, you will never forget it."

But her career continues. This season is Wright's third with the Lynx. She is averaging 9.8 points and shooting 53.6 percent this season. She scored 11 points and had two steals Sunday in the Lynx's 84-71 victory over Seattle. After the game, the Lynx told Wright that they would pick up the option year on her rookie contract. She will be back in 2013.

The 5-11 shooting guard from Virginia was the second overall pick in the 2010 WNBA draft. Because of injuries to Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins, she started 24 games as a rookie and was counted upon to score. She averaged 11.1 points but shot only 37 percent from the field. She wasn't ready for that role.

Her second season, Wright was one of the first players off the bench. It was a more suitable spot, but her shooting improved only slightly.

"Anybody that's seen her for two years, Monnie was all jump shot," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "[But] Monnie really took to heart some things that we talked to her about -- being able to go to the rim and finish. ... She is my player when the defense really gets intense and they are really pushing on us. She is so fast and so explosive, she can get by you."

After playing basketball this winter in Turkey, Wright has an improved layup -- a scoop shot.

Best of all, Wright will have a chance to show it off to her dad Wednesday night.

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