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Liberty's Reshanda Gray works hard to prove she belongs 

New York Liberty forward Reshanda Gray shoots a

New York Liberty forward Reshanda Gray shoots a free throw against the Washington Mystics in the first half of a WNBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Saturday, July 3, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Her two hardship contracts to fill in when the Liberty were shorthanded came and went earlier this season. Reshanda Gray headed home to Los Angeles each time, knowing in her heart that she still belonged in the WNBA.

But she handled that type of hardship well.

"At the end of the day, you’ve got to dig deep within yourself," Gray said. "I definitely have to say my faith played a big part. I’m big on the religion, and I feel like God always has a purpose for me.

"But one of the things that I continued to do is I continued to work out. I continued to get treatment. I continued to act as if I was still in the league, so that way when the opportunity came, it would be a smooth transition for me."

Then last Thursday, the opportunity came. The Liberty had waived center Kiah Stokes the day before. They signed Gray again, and this time the contract was for the remainder of the season.

The 28-year-old forward immediately showed her value by scoring 11 points — including two pivotal pick-and-roll baskets in the last two minutes — and grabbing six rebounds in 18:26 off the bench in Saturday’s 82-79 comeback win over Washington at Barclays Center.

"She catches everything," coach Walt Hopkins said. "So having a target so effective in the roll game really opened things up for our wings and our guards."

Gray was the 2015 Pac-12 Player of the Year with the California Golden Bears. Minnesota drafted her in the second round that year. Gray played with the Lynx and Atlanta. She wasn't in the league in 2017 and 2018, instead she played overseas. She spent 2019 with the Liberty. They waived her before last season, and she signed with Los Angeles.

This year, the Liberty re-signed her the day of the season-opener on May 14, released her May 18, re-signed her June 7 and released her June 22. Her July 1 return was welcomed.

"To come in and be able to just bring good vibes, like just get along with everybody, is a massive reflection of her," teammate Sami Whitcomb said. "And then on court, I think the word I always think of when I think of her is toughness."

The 6-2 Gray also brings continual energy and leadership. She was averaging 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and lots of good vibes in seven games heading into Monday night’s play against Dallas in Brooklyn.

"I just wanted to go anywhere where I was wanted," Gray said. "But, of course, when I signed [this last time], it was a relief because I worked really hard and I know I can bring something to the table that everybody can’t."

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