The Crusader Newspaper Group

Bolingbrook High School teen wins $1,000 for essay

She’s only 15 and a sophomore at Bolingbrook High School who won $1,000 for a sports essay that she learned of just three days before the contest deadline.

Fulfilling her dream of becoming a writer, Laylah Richmond has also written her first book based on her third-grade experiences that she has titled “The Whole World Opened Up.” It will be released on October 31.

Richmond was the first-place winner of the 500 words or less contest in the BDM Sports & Education (Believe) first annual youth WNBA All-Star Essay Contest, writing on the topic entitled, “Should WNBA players be paid as much as NBA players, why or why not?”

The contest was open to all middle school and high school students. Richmond learned about the contest three days before the July 31 deadline.

Her essay cited proof of the pay disparity between the WNBA and the NBA that she says is “totally unfair.” Richmond, who also plays basketball and is interested in the business side of the sport, said she began researching the topic and was shocked at the huge differences in salaries between the two leagues.

“The difference between the WNBA and the NBA is really huge, and it is unfair,” she told the Chicago Crusader.

As an example, Richmond pointed out the difference in the number of teams in each league, beginning with the 12 teams for the WNBA versus 30 teams for the NBA. “I now understand why more payment was given between the two leagues,” she said.

But the difference in salary income still was mindboggling to the teenager. She learned that one of her favorite NBA players, Candace Parker who signed a two-year $385,000 contract with the Chicago Sky, is making a yearly average salary of $192,500.

But when she compared that to her favorite NBA player, Lebron James, the highest paid in NBA history, who makes $44.7 million for the 2022-23 season, Richmond was shocked. It was another eye opener when she learned that with an extension, James will make about $46.7 million for the 2023-2024 season.

“This is so unfair,” Richmond said, “But I do understand why they are paid that amount because it is about the sponsorships, the advertisements and how much TV time they get. With the NBA, we always see their commercials and the star players.”

She said that is not so for the WNBA, which she feels should have more TV exposure.

When asked how this disparity can be rectified, Richmond urged WNBA enthusiasts to support this league including buying tickets for their games. “When they play, people should share this on their social media platforms as a show of support. That’s what I do,” she said.

Richmond didn’t stop at winning $1,000 for her WNBA vs NBA essay. Saying she loves to write, edit and engage in videography, Richmond entered yet another writing contest and just last week won a laptop.

She talked about her book entitled, “The Whole World Opened Up.” It is about her experiences when she was in the third grade, along with her being a member of the Black Star Project.

Reflecting on her third-grade experiences, Richmond said, “I was really shy. I did not like doing anything in front of people, but I faced my fears and I read anyway,” she recalled.

“I won $75 and was in third place when I was just a third-grade student.”

Her book, she said, takes readers “on a whole new journey that includes the experiences of her best friend.”

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