Meet The NBA's Only Female Referee


Out of 62 referees in the NBA, Violet Palmer is the only woman.

This CNN profile of the NBA ref details her rise to one of the most competitive positions in sports and is a great way to motivate yourself when you get discouraged by the umpteenth jerk who tries to tell you what ladies can or can’t do LOL.

A native of Compton, Calif., much of Palmer’s life as a child and young adult centered around basketball. She played from junior high through college, attending California Polytechnic State University on a full athletic scholarship. Palmer holds two NCAA Women’s Championship from her time at the school.

She describes what it was like to officiate her first game in 1997. (Not going to lie here, that would scare the crap out of me, too):

“I was scared out of my wits. It was so much going on, so much excitement. But for me, as soon as I walked out on that floor and we tossed the ball, now it was time to go to work.”

And as you probably guessed, Palmer faced a ton of discrimination. She’s pretty much heard it all:

“Every negative thing you can think of, they’ve thrown it at me…’You’re not going to make it.’ ‘Why are you here? Go back to WNBA.’ ‘Players and coaches are not going to accept you.’ ‘Your guys that you work with, they’re not going to accept you.’ “

But Palmer says after 17 years, the players and coaches have come to respect her. Oh and there’s a great news nugget buried at the bottom of this profile. Palmer says that there are two more women currently going through the NBA’s referee training program, who she says are “awesome.” So, expect to see more lady refs hitting the courts soon? *FINGERS CROSSED*

Image via Getty Images

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