The one question women’s basketball player Gaby Moss probably hates on a questionnaire is the line “Hometown” or in a conversation is the question “Where Are You From?”
For in her first 18 years, Gaby Moss has lived in 8 states. She’s called a place her home in four different time zones.
Not many, if any, Georgia State students were born in Alaska. Not many Georgia State students’ parent works inside the Pentagon.
Want a quick sample of what she’s experienced or seen:
- A New Year’s Peach Drop at midnight after a Chick-fil-A Bowl game
- A visit to The Martin Luther King Center
- Figured out how sweet that sweet tea is in the south
- Been inside the top-security Pentagon and seen their 9-11 memorial
- Seen the Washington, D.C. monuments and memorials
- Lived through ice storms , blizzards and tornados in the heartland
- Learned mud volleyball and what a demolition derby is
- Seen Fort Knox (where the gold is locked up) and
Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby)
- Survived the hail storm that torn the family roof apart
- Camped in the Rocky Mountains (hitting a moose with their car, eating frog legs that they caught and cooked)
- Been to the State Capitol in Kansas for school trips; Goes to school one block from the State Capitol in Georgia
- Endured summer in the south, sitting in Sunday and Wednesday church with the little hand fan to try to provide air and relief because there was no air conditioning
- Had her picture taken at the Alamo with the family during their time in San Antonio
- Born on an Army Post in Alaska, where it would get 60-below zero in the Land of the Midnight Sun and where they held contests for fun about when the ice would thaw and break on the rivers
Maybe only the Harlem Globetrotters have played basketball in as many gyms around the country as Gaby Moss has.
Her father is a basketball coach, so he got her started young. Naturally, her four-year high school playing career was spent at two different schools (Fort Riley/ Junction City Kansas, and T.C. Williams in Alexandria, Va.) along with several touring AAU summer league teams. Now at Georgia State, she traveled to 10 different states to play during her freshman season.
Naturally, her high school basketball career wasn’t at just one school. She wore the blue and white uniform for the Bluejays of Junction City (Kan.) High School as a freshman and sophomore. Then, she played for the Titans of T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va. That is the high school made famous in the Denzel Washington movie called “Remember The Titans”.
In a sense, Lauren Gabrielle Moss was born as a late Christmas present on Dec. 27, 1993, in the hospital on the army post at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. That is a subarctic climate with long, cold winters from late September to early May with the brutal Chinook winds. On the winter solstice in December, it is dark for more than 20 hours on that day and on the summer solstice in June it is daylight for almost 22 hours, hence the land of the midnight sun. Mom joined in and played the annual lottery pool of when the Nana River would thaw and the tripod placed on the ice would first move. Luckily for the Moss family, it was a two-year stint.
Gaby’s family moved 4,000 miles from the north to the south and settled in San Antonio, Texas. After the ridiculous cold, they were now in a climate where the average monthly temperature was over 80 degrees for seven months of the year. This was the terrible two’s for the growing young girl as she was able to enjoy the outdoors and adventures in the Alamo City.
The third stop was in Arkansas in a tiny town of Brinkley, her parents’ home town. The middle of nowhere town of 4,000 residents was two hours each way between Little Rock and Memphis. Gaby lived with her grandmother while mom’s duties with the Army kept her occupied. Little Gaby and her new friends would play a lot in the cemetery down the street. She vividly remembers the church services in the tiny one-room southern Baptist church the family helped build. They always went to Sunday services and Wednesday night services. Those little hand church fans, usually sponsored by a funeral home or car dealer, were the only link to moving air. Gaby also remembers the good eating with the fresh fruits and vegetables that everyone in the town grew and shared.
Stop number four was time for kindergarten and pre-school. They lived in the now-famous Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, where a mass murderer killed 12 people and wounded 58 at a movie theatre. With the Rocky Mountains providing beautiful scenery, the family began to enjoy the outdoors. On one camping trip while driving at night, the family car crashed into a moose on the little back road. She remembered all the camp fires and cooking meals, including the time they caught frogs, cooked them over the campfire and she ate her first frog legs. And, it was here that Gaby first mastered the art of riding her own bike.
Move number five came in elementary school as they moved 1,100 miles back east to Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville. Gaby thought many of the residents spoke with a mountain twang and remembers it being blue-jean country. But, she learned karate, had some great experiences snow sled riding, while dad was coaching basketball on the military post. One time a hail storm blew across town and the family roof got destroyed by scary and extremely loud hail the size of baseballs. The pounding of putting on the new roof followed that pounding by the hail, Kentucky is the home of Fort Knox, where the gold is securely kept, and Louisville is the home of Churchill Downs where the famous Kentucky Derby is.
Her sixth hometown became Junction City, Kansas, a small town about 20 minutes from Manhattan, the home of Kansas State University in northeast Kansas. Now in farm country, Kansas provided the opportunity for lots of good steak and summer barbeques, plenty of good vegetables from the gardens and wide open spaces. Of course, that area is known for tornados, so there were always warning sirens blaring. But the closest one to touch down to her was eight miles in a small town named Chapman which was almost completely destroyed. In Abilene, she took her first trip to a Demolition Derby, where they take old clunker cars and crash them into one another until only one is left able to run. Mud volleyball teams were popular to her amazement. The family became followers of Kansas State Wildcat sports. It was here in Junction City that Gaby obtained her love and passion for basketball, playing in schools, on the military base and in AAU games.
The seventh home was just south of Washington, D.C. in Alexandria, Va. where mom was close to her work in the Pentagon. Gaby played basketball at T.C. Williams and noted the displays at the school from the 2000 movie “Remember The Titans” with Denzel Washington. Gaby’s eyes opened even more to the diversity and cultures in a melting pot city. And, within that culture was the D.C. slang terms that she had to figure out in high school. During her mom’s promotion ceremony she obtained security clearance to go with mom inside the Pentagon and got to visit some of the memorials and monuments on the Nation’s Capital.
When she signed her scholarship to Georgia State, Gaby arrived in one of America’s 10 largest cities in the downtown campus in the summer of 2012. Her first observations were how friendly the people were, how southerners smiled more often, and how many southern food restaurants and chicken places dotted the landscape. She didn’t know at first what “fixin’ to” meant, but quickly figured out that unknown phrase and its uses among the other southern terms. The tea is way sweeter and the hash browns at Waffle House come in so many forms. Clothes are much brighter and more colorful and flip-flops are way more popular and many people seem to look prettier and stylish. Alas, the Atlanta traffic is just as miserable as D.C.’s is. Home here is the Lofts Apartments on campus.
While playing basketball, she’s been on the GSU team retreat out to Lake Oconee and is visiting the 10 states in the travels with the team in their last year in the Colonial Athletic Association. Next year, the tours and stops will change as the team moves into the Sun Belt Conference. Home during a basketball season is one airport and one hotel after another.
Perhaps it is only fitting that Gaby is going to school at a
major university that is among the most diverse in America. With her high
school GPA of 4.06 and being in the top 10 percent of her class, jumping right
into the experiences of studying economics with potential for studying
investment and financial careers,she is soaking it all in.
Wonder where her ninth home will be when she graduates from GSU?