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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

Friends and family often play as rivals on the court, but can this be said about Betnijah Laney and Rickea Jackson? Both are well-established basketball players, with Laney being the 2020 WNBA Most Improved Player Award. Jackson is second to none, as she was named the First-Team All-SEC in 2023.

But their individual feats apart, how are they related to each other?

Betnijah Laney and Rickea Jackson’s relation

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Not related by blood, Laney and Jackson share a special bond of godsisters. Interestingly, this bond was established more than 40 years ago when Laney’s mother Yolanda, and her best friend Debra Walker used to play at the historic 1982 Cheyney State Team that went to the NCAA Championship game. Moreover, both of them were coached by the Hall of Famer coach C. Vivian Stringer. Debra is also the godmother of both Laney and Jackson.

Evidently, Caryn (Jackson’s mother) met Yolanda through Debra. Notably, Yolanda used to make a stop at Detroit, to pick Debra and Caryn up on her way to Iowa’s basketball camps which were coached by Stringer from 1983-1995.

This motherly connection makes Laney and Jackson as godsisters. But people failed to notice them so far in their careers and recognized them only when they were in a face-off with each other in Tennessee’s exhibition game against the USA Basketball women’s national team.

The interesting face-off was concluded by the team USA’s 59-95 win over the Lady Vols. Further, Jackson scored 15 points (a game-high), whereas, Laney scored a team-high 14 points.

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As their godmother, Caryn would love to see Laney and Jackson play alongside each other instead of against each other, as reported by Knoxnews. 

Laney as a mentor to her godsister

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Rickea Jackson has always seen Betnijah Laney as a sister and more as a mentor. From 2011 to 2015, Jackson used to visit Laney at the time when she played for coach Stringer at Rutgers. Moreover, this one time between 2015-16, Jackson got a wonderful chance to see Laney’s life as a WNBA player up close when she stayed with Laney for two weeks. Laney played for the Chicago Sky.

“It just means a lot to have her. Just being in the league and knowing her journey, to have that person who’s so mature and has such a high IQ with the game. At a certain point, she got cut, but now she’s one of the best role players in the league – I think the best, but you know, people sleep on her, they need to wake up. But I’m just grateful to have her,” said Jackson.

On the other hand, Jackson has made exponential growth as a basketball player throughout college. This growth is reflected in the game she played against the USA team, hence making Laney proud of her godsister.

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Now, Laney’s soaring journey continues as she gets invited to the Olympics training camp, eventually leading her to the 2024 Paris Olympics.