Melissa Walsh

Kim Perrot

Gale Group | Kim Perrot

Kim Perrot

Black Biography: Kim Perrot basketball player

Personal Information

Born Kim Perrot in Lafayette, Louisiana, on January 18, 1967; died on August 19, 1999.

Education: University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1990.

Career

Professional basketball player. Played for several overseas team before signing with the Houston Comets, 1997-98.

Life's Work

Dynamic point guard for the Houston Comets, Kim Perrot accomplished much in her short life and faced challenges with determination. The petite 5'5, 130-pound woman from Lafayette, Louisiana, dazzled fans with powerful and cunning defensive moves on the court. Just as impressive was Perrot's faith in God and unselfish dedication to serve others. However, despite her endurance and courage, she could not defeat the cancer that ended her life at only 32 years of age. Bill Campbell of the Washington Post described Perrot's effect on women's basketball in an article reporting her death: "Often overshadowed by the flashy play of stars Sheryl Swoopes and [Cynthia] Cooper, Perrot was a favorite of fans and teammates for her diligence and scrappy play."

Determined to Succeed

Kim Perrot was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, in 1967. The spunky Louisiana native loved the game of basketball since childhood. She revealed in an online chat featured on the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) website that she picked up much of her skill and inspiration from playing ball with her brothers, Craig and Kevin. Despite her small stature, Perrot demonstrated unusual talent. She acknowledged that the negative messages she would hear from others telling her that she was too small to play serious basketball made her more determined to develop the talent she had already within her. She worked vigorously to become a champion athlete and used her Christian faith as an inspiration both on and off the court. The role model and two-time WNBA champion declared, "I knew the Good Lord blessed me with so much talent and I have a message. That message is to all the young athletes, whether short, tall, lightweight, heavyweight, whatever it is, if you put your mind to it in sports, you can do it."

Achieved Success on the Basketball Court

Perrot played four years at the University of Southwestern Louisiana, where she set 26 school records, including highest career scorer with 2,157 points, and the NCAA record for second-highest scoring in a game when she scored 58 points against Southeastern Louisiana. She led the NCAA in average scoring per game with 30.1 points. In 1989 and 1990 she played for the U.S. National Team. Perrot began her professional career in 1991 playing overseas as there was no professional basketball league for women in the United States at the time. Over the course of six years, she played with teams in Sweden, Germany, Israel, and France. In 1997 she returned to the United States to try out for the newly-formed WNBA. She competed with much larger women in her tryouts for the Houston Comets, but managed to sign as a developmental player in May of 1997. A month later she made it onto the regular squad.

Perrot spoke adoringly of her Comet teammates and others she admired within the WNBA. She named teammates Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson as among "the best players in the world" and singled out Cooper as the most difficult player to defend in the WNBA. She observed about her teammates, "They look athletic on the court and off the court they are very ladylike....They are very respectful. That's one reason the Comets have been very successful is because we respect each other on the court and off the court. We are basically like a little family." Perrot's own stats speak of her perseverance on the court. During the 1998 season she placed second in steals with a total of 84, finishing second in the honor of Defensive Player of the Year. She was sixth in the WNBA in assists, averaging 4.7 per game. She was ninth in most playing time with an average of 32.9 minutes per game. She ranked eleventh in completing three-point field goals with 29. Over the course of her two years with the WNBA, Perrot averaged 7.2 points, 4 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game. Her contribution to the team was invaluable in the Comets championship runs in 1997 and 1998, even though an ankle injury during the 1998 playoffs hindered her effectiveness. She played through the pain, proclaiming that she "wanted to go out fighting...," and realized her professional dreams with two WNBA titles.

Bravely Fought Cancer

Perrot found herself embroiled in an entirely different battle when doctors discovered that a series of headaches she suffered after the 1998 season had their source in a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Although Perrot was a nonsmoker, the cancer developed first in her lungs and spread to her brain, metastasizing into several brain tumors. On February 24, 1999, she underwent surgery to remove the most critical tumor on the left side of her brain. Her physicians suggested radiation and chemotherapy as post-op treatment, but she chose to undergo treatment in Tijuana, Mexico, as an alternative to chemotherapy. That March, she revealed to the public the extent of the enormous battle she faced against this disease. During the news conference, her coach, Van Chancellor, was visibly shaken.

In spite of her devastating condition, in May of 1999, Perrot continued in charitable work as she struggled to defeat the cancer. Representing the Comets, Perrot was the guest of honor at a Houston Rockets' annual charity fundraiser. The Clutch City Foundations' Fourth Annual Tux and Tennies Charity Gala-attended by 600 people, including Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Charles Barkley- raised money for Kim's Place, a facility to house recreational activities for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. The event brought in nearly $400,000. During her battle, Perrot made approximately 100 public speaking appearances, mostly to youth audiences. She wrote several columns for Yo, a teen publication by the Houston Chronicle.

One of her last public appearances was on June 22, 1999, when she accepted her 1998 championship ring at a Comets home game. During her second trip to Mexico, Perrot's condition worsened. She returned to Houston days before her death, which occurred just before three in the afternoon on August 19, 1999. She died peacefully with her family and friends at her side at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. USA Today reported Carroll Dawson, executive vice president for basketball for the Comets, as saying upon learning of Perrot's death, "The world is not as good as it was before 3 o'clock today."

The outflow of grief and devotion surrounding Perrot's death testified as to the impact of Perrot's brief time in the WNBA on her teammates and fans. The night before she passed away, fans sported white ribbons over their hearts at the Comets victorious final home game against the Phoenix Mercury in support of Perrot. The Comets, aware of Perrot's grave condition, mourned over their friend's suffering in private, closing the locker room to the press before and after the game. Even though the Comets were favored to achieve another championship title season as the 1999 playoffs began, the team focused on Perrot. According to the Washington Post, Coach Chancellor explained, "Kim has shown me how unimportant a threepeat is in the great scheme of life." Teammate and close friend, Cynthia Cooper did not dress for the first game of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Sparks, out of grief over Perrot's death. Both teams wore stripes on their jerseys out of mournful adoration and, following the game, the Sparks offered the Comets black WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets, in memory of Perrot's strong religious conviction. Despite their loss, the Comets continued to play championship ball and beat the New York Liberty in the finals to win the coveted distinction of a three-peat victory. They were the fourth major professional basketball team to achieve three championship titles in a row.

Known around the WNBA as the heart and soul of the Comets' championship playing in 1997 and 1998, Perrot was honored in mournful salutes in basketball stadiums around the nation during the 1999 playoffs. The Los Angeles Times reported WNBA president Val Ackerman as observing, "We will remember Kim as a woman of great heart and indomitable courage who refused to be daunted by any challenge." WNBA players were visibly devastated by the announcement of Perrot's death, including league rival and former U.S. National Team teammate Michelle Edwards of the Cleveland Rockers, and Teresa Weatherspoon, who rivaled Perrot during her college career, while playing for Southeastern Louisiana. The Detroit News reported Weatherspoon's reflection of her memories with Perrot: "We trash talked each other, but the moment the horn went off, we were embracing each other and laughing about some of the things." The New York Liberty's Sue Wick, who knew Perrot from her professional playing days in Europe, reminisced in the Detroit News, "When Kim was on the court she was effervescent, she just lit up." A public service was held on August 23, 1999, at the Second Baptist Church in Houston to memorialize Perrot's life. She was buried in Lafayette, Louisiana, the following day.

Awards

Selected awards: Held 26 athletic records at University of Southwestern Louisiana; has second-highest scoring game in NCAA history; member of U.S. National Team, 1989 and 1990; two Pro-Am National championships; two WNBA championships, 1997 and 1998.

Further Reading

Periodicals

Detroit News, August 20, 1999.

Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1999.

USA Today, August 20, 1999.

Washington Post, August 20, 1999.

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from an online chat and interviews on the WNBA website.

– Melissa Walsh Doig