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F ifty-year-old Gabrielle Ludwig fulfills her hoops dream

Gabrielle Ludwig

Gabrielle Ludwig

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Updated: January 19, 2013 6:19AM

Fi fty -year-old Gabrielle Ludwig is a 6-6, 220-pound center for Mission College in Santa Clara. More than 30 years ago, she played for a community college on Long Island in New York. Her name then was Robert John Ludwig . She is believed to be the first transsexual to play college basketball as a man and a woman.

A lifelong basketball lover, Ludwig has helped coach and worked out with the Saints since the beginning of the school year, but she only received conference clearance to compete on the last day of November. She took the court as No. 42 the next day, scoring three points on four free throws in about seven minutes of play. During her first home game, she scored eight points in 11 minutes.

About a week ago, Ludwig gathered her 10 teammates at practice and offered to quit. This was their time to shine, she told the group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds. She didn’t want to be a distraction for the team. The other women said if Ludwig, whom they nicknamed “Big Sexy” and “Princess,” didn’t play, they wouldn’t either.

“Then let’s just play basketball,” she replied solemnly, looking each teammate in the eye. “I got exactly what I always wanted, just to fit in and be normal like everyone else.”

Ludwig’s basketball bug returned 12 years ago, when her daughter from her second marriage, then 7, started playing youth basketball and Ludwig signed on as her coach.


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