A Family Of Athletes
Freshman Deja Terrell Leans On Parents' Athletic Experience To Build Her Own Path
DENTON -- At a young age, North Texas women's basketball freshman Deja Terrell was exposed to sports at its highest level.
Terrell, an Oak Cliff native, remembers her family's short stint living in sunny California where they spent time at the beach and then would go see her father, David Terrell, play for the Oakland Raiders.
"I remember going to the games and being scared of the fireworks," Terrell said. "That's really all I remember. I remember the beach more."
But even though her father retired from the NFL after a six-year career as a safety before Terrell can fully remember, she knows she's fortunate to have two parents who were tremendous athletes and have prepared her for being a student-athlete at North Texas.
"Earning a scholarship from North Texas and coach Mitchell was one of the best days ever," Terrell said. "But my parents made it possible. They introduced me to sports, inspired me to play and their knowledge and support helped me stay on the right path and create my own path."
Terrell's mother, Kiana Taylor-Terrell is one of UTEP women's basketball's all-time greats. When she graduated in 1998, her 1,134 career points were second most in program history. Her 676 rebounds were also second most.
"Both my parents have been in my shoes and to have them to lean on has been critical in my development as a student-athlete," Terrell said. "I'm fortunate to have them to learn and grow from."
For a large portion of her competitive playing career, Terrell has had her mother by her side as a coach.
"She's strict," Terrell explained with a laugh. "But she knows what it takes."
Even when she wasn't her coach, mom and dad were always there in the stands or on the phone to give advice when needed. And now that she's living on her own, there have been quite a few more phone calls back home.
When the team had to run the football stands at Apogee Stadium at six in the morning, Terrell made it through the finish line but she lost her breakfast after she crossed it.
"I called home," Terrell said. "I told them `I don't think I can do it.' But they told me to not doubt myself and like always they kept me positive and were encouraging."
Terrell's skills on the court aren't anything to doubt.
A 2017 graduate of Life Oak Cliff High School, Terrell is the first girls basketball player from the school to earn a Division I scholarship. She averaged 18.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a senior. She was named a McDonald's High School All-American Nominee and was a top-20 Texas recruit.
Furthermore, she's a winner.
Terrell won more than 90 percent of her district games while at Life Oak Cliff but it was her final home game on senior night that will stick with her.
Terrell scored 41 points and had 18 rebounds in a 95-22 rout. Terrell fell just a few points shy of breaking her mom's high school personal high, which she set at Sunset High School.
"We had a little competition," Terrell said with a smile. "I guess she got to hang on to that one but I'm just starting. I know I'll accomplish a lot, because I've learned from the best."