The Brazilian embarked on a tough journey to reach the WNBA.

Kamilla Cardoso's great sacrifice moves Dawn Staley almost to tears

Chicago Sky star Kamilla Cardoso didn’t have the easiest path to the WNBA after deciding to leave her native Brazil as a youngster, receiving praise from her former coach for her ‘sacrifice’.

The 23-year-old is one of several prospects to feature in the new ESPN+ ‘Full Court Press’ documentary, along with ex-Iowa star Caitlin Clark and UCLA’s KiKi Rice. The documentary follows all three players throughout the 2023-24 season in their final year playing in the NCAA.

But her story is somewhat different from her American colleagues. Cardoso was born and raised in Brazil, but arrived in the United States at the age of 14 as she pursued her dream to become a professional women’s basketball player.

Cardoso said she grew up in a “bad part” of town where you can either “make it out or stay in it”. And she admitted her family had serious reservations about her leaving Brazil behind for America.

“I had two dreams: to make it in basketball to a very high level and to get a better education to give my family a better life,” Cardoso said in her interview.

“My mom was a little nervous at the time because I was like 14 at the time and I didn’t speak no English, I was coming from a different country, I didn’t know nothing about the culture.”

Kamilla Cardoso struggles underlined

Breaking down in tears, the 6ft 7in center said she lost 20 pounds in weight and suffered from homesickness, calling her parents every day – and her sacrifice wasn’t lost on her coach at South Carolina.

Staley, who looked visibly emotional when talking about Cardoso, praised her for making the brave decision to leave her home nation when she was just a teenager.

“When you decide to pick up and leave your family, it’s a huge sacrifice and I know she doesn’t want to let her family down,” Staley said.

But it all will be worth it when she steps out onto the court for the first time with the Sky, who selected Cardoso as the No.3 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

She could make her debut along with Angel Reese against the Dallas Wings as their new campaign gets underway on May 16.