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Dawn Staley helps reunite South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso with family: ‘An incredible moment for all of us’

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The South Carolina women’s basketball team is wrapping up another strong season under longtime head coach Dawn Staley.

Senior Gamecocks center Kamilla Cardoso has had a breakout season and will likely draw attention from multiple WNBA teams when she decides to declare for the draft. 

Cardoso was born in Montes Claros, Brazil, and spent her freshman season with Syracuse. 

Cardoso is in her third season with South Carolina. She moved into the starting lineup this year in place of Aliyah Boston, last year’s Naismith College Player of the Year who was the No. 1 overall selection in last year’s WNBA Draft.

Cardoso’s outstanding performance this season has helped the Gamecocks to a 28-0 record. South Carolina hosts the Tennessee Volunteers Sunday in both teams’ regular-season finale.


Cardoso has faced numerous setbacks during her rise to basketball stardom. She initially left her home country when she was in middle school and enrolled in a school in Tennessee, allowing Cardoso to hone her basketball skills.

Although Cardoso made strides, she had to contend with being thousands of miles away from her family. Despite feeling homesick at times and fighting through a language barrier, Cardoso landed an athletic scholarship to Syracuse. 

She received Atlantic Coast Conference honors after her first season in upstate New York and decided to transfer to South Carolina, where she has continued to shine.

The Gamecocks shared a video Saturday of Cardoso’s emotional reunion with her family. 

“Family over everything,” the South Carolina women’s basketball program captioned the social media post.

“This is kind of an incredible moment for all of us … for someone that (has) made incredible sacrifices for her family for the past eight years …. just for this game, just for the game she loves,” Staley said while addressing the team.

“We’ve got a chance to do something pretty special … yep Kamilla … Kamilla. Let’s bring the people who also made that sacrifice for the past eight years.” 

Dawn Staley coaches her team

Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina is believed to have helped Staley coordinate the surprise reunion.

Sunday’s game will also mark senior day for the South Carolina’s women’s team. Departing players are usually honored and escorted by their families. It appears Cardoso will have the opportunity to share her special moment with her family this weekend.

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