Not one to rest on her laurels — even though the former Lady Rebel standout’s name still is atop the record books she rewrote more than two decades ago — Gwynn Hobbs Grant continues to work with Native American youths, mentoring high school students and motivating them to pursue their dreams.
“I am a Rebel, and I’ll be a Rebel for life,” Grant said, before becoming just the fifth women’s basketball player to be inducted into the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame in May. “UNLV gave me my degree, and it gave me an opportunity to do what I love. It’s a basis for who I am, and it gave me an identity.”
Grant, ’95 BA Sociology, stood out for setting long-term goals and her legendary long-range stroke — she remains the program’s most accurate three-point shooter at 40.6 percent — as a child growing up on a Navajo reservation in Ganado, Arizona.
“I had someone I looked up to on the reservation,” Grant recalls. “My uncle was one of the best to come off the reservation and play at the collegiate level. I wanted to be like him and play like him. I set my own dreams and my own goals, and I wanted to be one of the best players from the reservation. I wanted to play Division I basketball, and I wanted to be the best at the collegiate level as well.”
Though her collegiate playing career included conference tournament MVP honors in the Lady Rebels’ Big West title-winning 1993-94 season, academic all-conference honors all four years, and her name throughout the program’s record books, the three-time All-Big West Conference honoree made her most significant mark on Native Americans. To this day, she still comes across Native American kids who say they have her poster up on their walls.
While playing at UNLV, she partnered with United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) as a spokesperson, speaking to Native American students and student-athletes around the Southwest, both on and off reservations.
Equation for Success
“A lot of beliefs I had, I stood on. My coach in high school painted an equation on the wall that said ‘dedication + determination + hard work + sacrifice = success,’” she said. “Now that I’m a coach and the mother of four kids, I’ve told them the same equation. Not only have I lived it, but it stands correct in sports, in education, or life in general.”
Her message to striving Native Americans living on reservations mirrors her views on what it means to be a Native American woman: “I have the capability of going out and making my own life, whether that’s on or off the reservation. I'm proud to be who I am, and I'm proud to be a role model.”
Whether speaking to students on a UNITY tour, mentoring high school student-athletes at Choctaw Central High School, where she lives with her husband on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reservation, or advising her own kids, who aspire to be UNLV basketball players — none of whom, she says, can beat her at the game — her advice is the same.
“Being Native American shouldn't stop your dreams and goals,” she said. “We have just as much right (as anyone else) to opportunities to go and accomplish our dreams and goals, not just in sports, but in anything they'd like to pursue.”