Before heading to practice, three-time WNBA Champion Candace Parker drives daughter Lailaa to school. Home from a long road trip, she spends precious time with her family. She works hard to solidify her career as a sports broadcaster to secure a life after professional basketball.
The life of a female professional athlete is carefully detailed in the film “Unapologetic,” which was directed and executive produced by Joie Jacoby. It debuted on ESPN on Nov. 12. The project interested Jacoby because as acclaimed as Parker is, no film had documented her life.
“I felt her game was transformative to the sport,” said Jacoby, who worked on the film for almost two years. “She has changed the way that bigs in the WNBA play. Nobody on these [best players] lists had done all of the things that she had done while being a young mother and with all the injuries she had. I really wanted to examine her career.”
Parker gave birth to Lailaa between her rookie and second seasons in the WNBA. Over the course of her career, Parker has undergone multiple knee procedures as well as shoulder surgery. For several years, she spent her WNBA off-seasons playing overseas with Lailaa and her mother, Sara Parker, in tow.
While there is WNBA game footage and lots of video Parker shot of her family, which now includes wife Anna Petrakova and son Airr, the archival footage documenting her childhood, high school days, and local TV interviews was saved on VHS tapes at Sara Parker’s home. Jacoby bought an old school TV/VCR on eBay to go through the tapes.
“She let me take them for a limited time to a digitizing facility once we had identified what we wanted,” Jacoby said. This included footage Sara Parker shot on a camcorder as well as photographs.
Although Jacoby hoped the Chicago Sky, with whom Parker achieved a hometown glory championship in 2021, would repeat as WNBA Champions in 2022, that did not happen. Instead, Jacoby got to film the aftermath.
“A big thing about Candace is she’s so grounded by her family that she can move on from these struggles,” said Jacoby. “What I wanted to come across in this film was life outside of basketball. The sport defines her in many ways and she loves basketball, but I want people to come away with an understanding of what it takes to be great as a working mom. I want them to see the full extent of everything Candace does.”