To whom much is given: Loretta Cobbs’ life with basketball and her journey to continuous success

To whom much is given: Loretta Cobbs’ life with basketball and her journey to continuous success

North Carolina native Loretta Cobbs grew up learning the importance of dedication, commitment, sacrifices and faith throughout her journey of philanthropy in the Columbus community through family, life experiences and basketball.

Cobbs, recognized for her efforts in fostering unity and demonstrating excellence, was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Chattahoochee Valley Community College. This marks her third induction, having previously been recognized by the Columbus Chattahoochee Hall of Fame and the Mother Mary Missionary Hall of Fame.

Cobbs moved to Columbus while still in primary school and developed a love for the sport of basketball shortly after. Having limited resources, she improvised a basketball hoop using items ranging from beach balls and tree branches to bicycle rims. Her dedication was evident as she tirelessly practiced day in and day out, consistently striving to exceed her own expectations.

“Me and my friend would take those beach balls and put them in what we call the garbage cans, it was, in the projects, they got just a top,” Cobbs said. “You tie the bag. We didn’t have garbage cans; we just had the bag, and you tie the garbage bag and it closes. So you can open it to tie the bag to it. And that was what we used for the backboard. We used to shoot in that day and night, day and night. And so we figured out, you know, we’re pretty good at this.”

Playing an organized game on the Marshall Middle School boys’ team, Cobbs took the liberty to distinguish herself and lead by example since there wasn’t a girls’ team at the time. This occurred before notable figures like Cheryl Miller and Cynthia Cooper gained widespread recognition. As a shooting guard at Columbus High School, Cobbs became second leading scorer nationwide and had an average of 30 points a game throughout her senior year, granting her the freedom to select any college of her choice upon graduation.

After returning home to the University of North Carolina, Cobbs, who was one of the players of the year, was ecstatic when she also received the opportunity to contribute to the Charlie Chris basketball camp alongside Sam Mitchell. However, she tore her ACL during a pick-and-roll drill, the first of three times that she’d do so. She was prohibited from playing in her high school’s all-star game, which was a significant event at the time.

After being persuaded by her coach to stay in Columbus to rehabilitate after tearing her ACL for a third time, Cobbs thought her career was over, despite having played injured for two years.

“That was a very, very difficult transition in my life,” Cobbs said. “Because that’s all I knew was that … We didn’t have a professional women’s team back then. So it wasn’t that degrading to say that I would never make it to the pros because we didn’t have one.” 

Focusing on the previous generation’s greater emphasis on passion for the sport rather than monetary gain, Cobbs hopes that athletes will not only display love for the game and competitiveness but also discover their true selves and purpose in the process, tapping into their inner souls.

“Have a dream or vision and never ever give up on that. One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:13: ‘I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” Cobbs said. “I’ve been in business for 40 years. In my work, I have seen it all. I’ve seen the enemy come in and try to steal, kill and destroy. I’ve seen a loved one go to glory. At a very early age, I had to bury every one of my siblings and write their obituary. I could not have done it if the Lord had not been on my side.”

Being one of six siblings, and one of two still alive today, Cobbs uses the testimony of her life experiences to fuel her faith and dedication to her community interests, much like she did with basketball.

“We used to run in the street barefooted, racing. My brothers would always push me, and they would always make me play against just the guys,” Cobb said. They’d say, ‘I bet you my sisters could beat you.’ And they would be out there betting against me. But you know what? That only made me stronger. Like I said, to [whom] much is given, much is required. Today, these athletes don’t understand it.”

That is one of Cobb’s favorite quotes to live by. She says that basketball kept her and her counterparts out of trouble. While she discovered an interest in it early on, she knew that with the talent around her, the reward would be even greater in the end. 

Cobbs encourages the new generation to look back and discover past inspirations they could look up to and admire. By delving into the history of these players and understanding what set them apart, young athletes can take steps toward pursuing similar achievements while reflecting on the work they put in to get to where they did. 

Tipping her hat to the athletes before and after her, Cobb attributes the credit of her resilience mainly to God for getting her through everything growing up. Living by three key principles — prayer, preparation and perseverance — Cobbs said the three must go hand-in-hand to determine success. 

“There’s so many great players that came before me that never get the recognition, and just due. And that’s what I stand for,” Cobbs said. “I stand for equality. I stand for giving me my flowers while I live. When I’m gone, I’m going. I’m not going to see them. Like I say: in all things, acknowledge him first.”

By Micahya Costen

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