'Grandma' Gibbs going out in style

Tia Gibbs

The University of Louisville women's basketball tea, will honor four seniors on Monday night at 7 p.m. against Connecticut. One of those seniors is Tia Gibbs, who started her career at Vanderbilt and is in her sixth season because of injuries. Cardinal Authority takes a look at Gibbs' journey.

It's been quite a journey for Tia Gibbs.

The 2008 Kentucky Miss Basketball from Butler High School started her career at Vanderbilt. She left after one season and returned home.

Now after sitting out two seasons because of injuries with the University of Louisville, the player known as 'Grandma' by her teammates is having a solid senior season. On Monday, Gibbs will finally make it to Senior Night.

"I've overcome a lot of adversity and made it to Senior Day," Gibbs said with a smile. "It's been a long time. I never want it to end, but I've been through a lot.

"I wouldn't take back one thing that I have done in my journey. I landed in the right place for me and it's been a lot of fun."

The 5-foot-8 Gibbs has returned after two years of injuries to play in 28 games, starting nine. She averages 7.7 points and 3.2 rebounds a game and has been a key in the 28-2 season.

Gibbs sat out two years ago after suffering a shoulder injury in the first game of the season, while sitting out last season with a hip injury.

"She's been great," U of L coach Jeff Walz said. "Not a day goes by where she doesn't have something hurting. The poor kid is beaten up.

"But she wanted a senior year and she's been big for us. We know what we're getting from Tia every time on the floor. I'm happy for her."

Gibbs played in 29 games as a true freshman at Vanderbilt, averaging 5.1 points a game for the Commodores. But she left after that season and say out the 2009-10 season at U of L.

As a sophomore, Gibbs started all 35 games for the Cardinals and led the team with 95 steals. She averaged 8.8 points a game and was expecting to have a huge season in 2011-12 but was injured in the first game. She sat out that season and all of last season (hip) also.

"It was tough," Gibbs said. "I wanted to be out there with my teammates. I wanted to be part of it and I couldn't, so that was hard."

Always a tough attitude, Gibbs stayed focused. She received a sixth year from the NCAA and decided that "nothing was going to stop me."

Walz said he doesn't always make her practice - sometimes forcing her to sit out drills - because he wanted to have her for the entire season. She sat out a couple of blowout games because he said, "we wanted her in March."

"I've grown a lot with all of the adversity," she said. "My body had its days where it didn't think I would make it, but I never did. There are days when I'd wake up and my body says, 'turn right back over and stay in bed.'

"I'm like Grandma, it takes me a little longer to get going, have to stretch a little bit but I'll get there and I'm with them when I can be."

And on Monday, Gibbs will be right with her teammates as they play UConn in the final regular-season game of her career.

"I can honestly say, mentally nothing was going to stop me," Gibbs said. "Now, five or six surgeries later here I am on Senior Day."

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