Player with a purpose

Minnesota Lynx star guard Candice Wiggins scores off-court points as an advocate for youth AIDS education.

hide

Lynx star guard Candice Wiggins shook hands and signed autographs at the Minnesota AIDS walk. Wiggins is a passionate AIDS activist. At the age of four, Candice Wiggins lost her pro baseball-player father to AIDS.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Basketball star Candice Wiggins is an exceedingly positive person -- even when she's talking about a subject as serious as AIDS.

"People hear the word and react with fear," she said over lunch at Target Center's NBA City, sporting metallic sandals, a fitted Union Jack windbreaker, short denims and a smile as bright as Beyoncé's. "Then they don't learn what they need to know. You can be upfront and open about it without being judgmental or shoving it down people's throats."

Off the court, the 22-year-old guard for the Minnesota Lynx has begun to be an advocate for AIDS awareness and HIV prevention. She appeared at the recent Minnesota AIDS Walk. In her home state of California, she has lent her name to the Candice Wiggins Foundation Fund, part of the San Francisco Foundation, as well as to Until There's a Cure, which raises money for AIDS vaccine development and youth education, Wiggins' particular passion.

"You'd be surprised how many young people I meet who aren't educated about the basic facts," she said. "They think you can get it by just touching someone who has it, or sharing water. People are still afraid to talk about it, to ask about it. I want to make it cool to be educated about your health, like having the latest hot outfit. It shouldn't make you nervous. It should make you proud."

AIDS is now the leading cause of death for black women under 40. In Minnesota, women made up 27 percent of new cases in 2008, compared with 18 percent 10 years ago. Nearly 70 percent were women of color.

"It was easy for women to get together over breast cancer," she said. "But they don't want to be associated with AIDS because they think they'll also be associated with drugs or promiscuity. They say, 'That's not me, I don't identify with that.' I say, it's a big community issue, a nationwide issue, and everyone should pull together just like with other diseases."

Her concern comes from a deeply personal place. Nearly every story written about the young sports phenom mentions her father, major-league baseball player Alan Wiggins, who died from complications of AIDS in 1991 at age 32. Wiggins, who played for the San Diego Padres, also had a drug problem.

His youngest daughter, Candice, was not quite 4 when he died. It seems more likely that a child that age, traumatized by all the grief around her, would grow up not wanting to think about the big scary thing that took her daddy away.

"I could have gone a totally different way," she said. "I credit my mom. She sheltered me at first because she didn't want to tarnish my opinion of my dad. When I got old enough, I explored it on my own. I wanted to know. Now she sees it as a prophecy fulfilled."

Angela Wiggins, who still lives in California, sees a lot of her late husband in Candice: "The way she eats, her mannerisms, her love of lime soda -- she plays her game like him, signs her name like him. He was a good speaker like she is. And they're both Aquarius."

Youth AIDS education advocates and scholars say volunteers like Wiggins can make a real difference.

"She is telling the world that there is no shame in loving someone with HIV/AIDS and that we each must do our part to increase awareness, compassion, understanding and support in the fight against it," said Dr. Gary Remafedi, a pediatrics professor at the University of Minnesota who directs youths and AIDS projects.

"It's always good to have someone who can identify in a personal way," said Theresa Evans-Ross, who coordinates HIV/AIDS prevention programs at North High School and churches. "Especially sports stars who are being positive role models. Kids look up to them."

Wiggins says she's encouraged by the progress she sees.

"At the AIDS walk, they had pamphlets for a group of junior runners, which they were calling 'passports' to be stamped at various stations where they would get more information about AIDS," she said. "When I was growing up, we never would have been able to be so open and curious. There was nothing for kids to see and learn from."

Someday soon, she hopes to write a children's book on the topic.

"There's a way it could be done that would be right," she said. "Kids are affected, too."

Regardless of where her career takes her, Wiggins plans to continue being a visible face -- and voice -- in the fight against AIDS. "Until there's a cure, I'll be a part of it."

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046

  • CANDICE WIGGINS

    Age: 22.

    Hometown: San Diego (born in Baltimore).

    Education: Working on a communications degree at Stanford University.

    Awards/honors: First-round draft pick for Minnesota Lynx in 2008, No. 3 overall. Became the Stanford Cardinals' all-time leading scorer. First three-time Pacific 10 Conference player of the year.

    Minnesota residence: An apartment in south Minneapolis.

    Siblings: One older brother, who plays basketball in France, and one older sister.

    Favorite local restaurant: Seven.

    Favorite fashion labels: Arden B, Miss Sixty.

    Favorite TV shows: "Gossip Girl," various reality series on Bravo.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 22 1st Qtr 0:31
New York 19
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 54 2nd Half 8:00
Cincinnati 34
Charlotte 44 2nd Half 12:50
Georgetown 58
SMU 44 2nd Half 8:54
Michigan 45
Louisville 47 2nd Half 13:00
Western Ky 39
Mount St Marys 15 1st Half 7:31
American Univ 15
Abilene Christian 12 1st Half 5:18
Boise State 29
UMass Lowell 17 1st Half 5:52
Duquesne 26
South Alabama 20 1st Half 7:58
IUPUI 22
Ohio State 21 1st Half 6:55
North Carolina 28
Massachusetts 8 1st Half 8:48
Providence 16
Syracuse 19 1st Half 9:36
Villanova 14
Citadel 24 1st Half 4:53
Virginia Tech 22
Belmont 12:30 PM
Fairfield
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Montreat 1:00 PM
Campbell
Delaware 1:00 PM
Fair-Dickinson
South Florida 1:00 PM
Florida State
Vanderbilt 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
SC State 1:00 PM
Houston
Missouri 1:00 PM
Illinois
Truett-McConnell 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Toledo 1:00 PM
McNeese State
Elon 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Drexel 1:00 PM
Penn State
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Rutgers
Albany 1:00 PM
Yale
PSU-Beaver 1:00 PM
Longwood
Eastern Ill 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Indiana 1:30 PM
Butler
Marshall 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
Lafayette 2:00 PM
Kansas
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
Memphis
Western Mich 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Delaware State 2:00 PM
Oregon
Fla Atlantic 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Arkansas Tech 2:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Howard Payne 2:00 PM
Texas-Arlington
UMBC 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
St Josephs (IN) 2:05 PM
Chicago State
Eastern Mich 2:05 PM
Missouri State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 4th Qtr 9:05
Louisiana 13
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Livingstone 51 2nd Half 12:45
UNC Greensboro 54
Loyola-Chicago 46 2nd Half 7:23
Dartmouth 40
Georgia Tech 56 2nd Half 4:28
St Francis-NY 51
Auburn 39 2nd Half 8:58
St Johns 45
East Tenn St 41 2nd Half 9:40
Jacksonville St 39
Western Mich 51 2nd Half 6:43
Detroit 39
Cal-Irvine 35 2nd Half 6:52
Wright State 69
Gardner-Webb 36 2nd Half 7:54
Kennesaw St 38
(7) Stanford 10 1st Half 7:54
(11) Tennessee 19
Alabama A&M 15 1st Half 6:44
Ole Miss 32
Central Michigan 16 1st Half 6:49
(1) South Carolina 25
Nebraska Omaha 21 1st Half 7:07
Creighton 21
FIU 25 1st Half 4:34
Western Carolina 38
Houston 27 1st Half 2:20
Nicholls 12
St Thomas Aquinas 12 1st Half 8:19
Army 21
St Bonaventure 17 1st Half 9:30
Niagara 14
Texas State 19 1st Half 4:50
Stetson 21
George Mason 18 1st Half 7:22
ULM 17
Grambling 1:00 PM
Kansas State
Missouri 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Robert Morris 1:00 PM
Cornell
Air Force 1:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Hampton 1:00 PM
James Madison
American Univ 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Texas Southern 1:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Tenn Tech 1:00 PM
NC A&T
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
NC Central
Penn 1:00 PM
Drexel
Lipscomb 1:00 PM
Xavier
Vermont 1:00 PM
Green Bay
Charleston Southern 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Ohio Christian 1:00 PM
Akron
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Murray State
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Iona
Indiana 1:00 PM
Oakland
Indiana State 1:30 PM
SMU
Denver 1:30 PM
Purdue
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
UCF 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Campbell 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M 2:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Jackson State
Lehigh 2:00 PM
Arizona State
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close