In her new book, Finding Myself, former WNBA player and coach Crystal Robinson describes growing up in poverty with parents who suffered from alcoholism. Published this week, Robinson, who played for the New York Liberty from 1999 to 2005, doesn’t hold back in describing her external and internal battles, but also shares how she held to her determination to build a better life for herself.
She was inspired by the book “The Café on the Edge of the World” by John Strelecky. “It’s a book about purpose,” said Robinson. “Once you ask yourself what’s your purpose in life and what are you here for, it becomes this burning desire. … I’m so purpose-driven. If something doesn’t align with my purpose or the values of my purpose, then it’s not for me.”
In her playing career, Robinson was a gypsy. After the American Basketball League failed, she joined the WNBA. As many WNBA players have done, she played internationally in the off-season, including Israel, Italy, Russia and Greece, which provided time to think.
“You spend time thinking about and reflecting on things,” she said. “When I started doing that, it didn’t feel good, so I started writing things down…to get them out so maybe I wouldn’t keep revisiting them. After about six or seven journals of stories and crying and laughing…I just looked at all of them side by side and said, ‘I really want to focus on the positive stuff.’”
She made a point of starting to find the good in things. For each difficult experience she wrote about, she also explored how she created a path to something better. It’s a book about hope, struggle and perseverance.
With this book, Robinson is beginning her next phase of life. “Finding Myself” is published by Steel Rose, a leadership group and sisterhood of women who have overcome significant life challenges and now choose the direction of love and co-creation. Steel Rose CEO Susan Hum saw the connection to Robinson’s story. In addition to the book, Robinson is now the organization’s chief strategy officer.
“It’s women who didn’t let their story break them and they found a way to shine their lights no matter what’s happened in their lives,” said Robinson, who spent the past four years as an assistant coach in the WNBA, but has decided to step away from coaching this year and focus on motivational speaking.
“I’m known by a lot of people, but very few know a lot about me,” said Robinson, who will be doing some promotions for the book with the New York Liberty. “I told my story. I hope it encourages other people to tell their stories.”