Growing up in Frayser and Northaven, Lee would go build an award-winning art portfolio before graduating from Millington Central High School this past May. While at MCHS, Lee participated in several activities including playing basketball for the Lady Trojans.
After narrowing down several choices for college, Lee is preparing to start the next chapter in her life at Tennessee State University in August. The daughter of Anthony Lee and Wadina Jones-Lee said family had a big impact on directing her path toward becoming a biology and art major. But it was sports that kept her focused on having a solid future.
It was 40 years ago Title IX gave females an equal opportunity through athletics and education. Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972. No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Lee said her predecessors like Pat Summitt, Cheryl Miller and Mary Lou Retton build off the foundation laid in 1972 making things a lot easier for her generation.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “They had all the courage to do that. We still don’t get the recognition we’re supposed to right now. But they paved a way for all females to do something besides just living the back-in-the-day way.”
Now there are professional sports leagues for women in soccer and basketball. Millions tune in to watch the U.S. Women’s World Cup Soccer team win the top prize in 1999 and Williams Sister from tennis is a household phrase.
With those role models, Lee grew up playing basketball, soccer, softball and track.
“Those things were something to do,” Lee explained. “They also build up courage and character. It had leadership tied into it. They helped to build up my leadership skills.
“It normal because I grew up like that,” she added. “Just doing the research on how it was then to how we have it now, a lot of females don’t realize that. They take it for granted.”
Lee said her father was another role model with him being a football and basketball player. But an addition role model was her mother with her playing sports.
Wadina also lit a light to her daughter’s artistic side through her fashion sense. Then uncles Glenn and Calvin help introduce Amber to drawing and photography.
“My passion for art came from my family,” she said. “I started ever since I was little. I got interested when I was 5. I used to doddle a lot. One day my Mom say what I was doing. ‘You drew that?’ I was, ‘Yes.’ ‘You need to keep drawing.’
“I used to take anything and draw,” Lee added. “I used to draw on the wall. She got a little mad.”
Those morels were a form of expression for Lee who admitted she was a shy child. By the time she reached MCHS her skills improved. And instructor Amy Lange worked with Lee guiding her to many honors through photography and graphic designs.
Recently Lee found out she scored a 5 out of 6 on her AP portfolio which was judged in Salt Lake City, Utah. Through the MCHS chapter of the National Art Honor Society, Lee had several pieces purchased including one photo for $100.
With offers from schools in across the United States including the Memphis College of Art, Lee decided the best place for her is TSU in Nashville.
“I just don’t want to go one way,” she said. ” I want to knock everything out. I might even walk-on to the basketball team.
“Art will keep me focused and keep me on track,” Lee added. “It’s a way to express myself and have my work showcased around Tennessee. Biology, I have to major in some type of science to go into Pre-Vet. I want to become a Veterinarian.”
Playing in the Frayser mud as a 3-year-old, Lee unearthed worms and other creatures. As she got older, her love of animals grew to include the four-legged types.
“Biology and Art major I plan on doing, my cousins gave me an idea about that like opening up a clinic and also doing some photography on the side,” she said. “I can do medicine on one side with the animals. And have a photo shoot for those people who love their animals. I can have some hanging on the wall.”
On Lee’s wall now are her own pictures and action shots of her on the court. Being apart of championship teams and seeing her art sell, Lee said she is glad to be a daughter of Title IX.
“I really want to thank them for paving the way,” she concluded. “They gave us females all across the country and the world the opportunity to do something and become something.”