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Former UM basketball player Tamara James elected Dania Beach mayor

Tamara James, a South Broward High and UM basketball legend, was elected Mayor of Dania Beach on Tuesday.
Tamara James, a South Broward High and UM basketball legend, was elected Mayor of Dania Beach on Tuesday. pportal@elnuevoherald.com

Tamara James scored thousands of points as a basketball star at South Broward High, the University of Miami, the WNBA and the Israeli league. Tuesday, she scored her biggest victory of all.

James, 32, was elected mayor of Dania Beach, the oldest community in Broward County.

She thanked her supporters and her parents on Facebook, and promised to “mold our future.”

Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said she was “inspired” by the news of James’ election, and hopes her players will be, too.

“I am so proud of a Miami Hurricane who said, `You know what? I’m going to get involved; I’m not just going to vote. I’m going to act, get my name out there and be the mayor of Dania Beach, and she did it,” Meier said. “She’s our leading scorer and she’s a mayor. This is what we’re trying to do at Miami. It’s an inspirational message on a day when some of us needed some.”

James was a Nike, Gatorade and McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. She led South Broward to three consecutive state titles and was named 2002 Florida Player of the Year.

At UM, she became the only freshman in Big East history to lead the league in scoring (21 points per game), and scored in double figures in 30 of 31 games. She was named All-Big East as a sophomore (16.6 points per game) and then averaged 22.3 points per game as a junior (fifth-best in the nation), the Hurricanes’ first year in the ACC.

In her senior season, James led the ACC in scoring with an average of 21.5 points per game and finished her career as the school’s all-time leading scorer — men or women — with 2,406 points.

Meier saw even then that James had leadership skills that would take her far.

“She is right alot, and she’s strong with her opinions,” Meier said. “She’s very respectful. Very strong, confident, tons of integrity, never backs down from a challenge. She’s a great leader, and she’s bold. I was very inspired by that result.”

James was a first-round pick (eighth overall) by the Washington Mystics in the 2008 WNBA draft and played professionally for nine years, mostly overseas in Turkey, Spain and Israel, helping her teams win three championships. She has a five-year-old son, Dion, and has spent the past few years as a community activist.

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