What was life like growing up for you? What kind of family did you grow up in?
I grew up in Covington, Georgia, just East of Atlanta, in Nelson Heights. I don’t remember everything in my early childhood, but it was pretty typical from my memory. My mom said that I was a good baby. I didn’t like people picking me up (I was told that I would scratch them in their face). I grew up with lots of cousins around the same age, so I had plenty of playmates. I played outside until the streetlights came on. I couldn’t go in and out of the house (you either stay in or out, lol). I loved playing hiding and seek, house, baseball, football, basketball, kickball, climbing trees, jumping on the trampoline, riding my bike, skating, and so much more.
My parents were never married. My mom worked a lot, so I spent a lot of my time with my grandmother. My mom has two children, and my brother is ten years older than I am. My father had over thirty children, from what I’ve been told. I’ve met quite a few, and I’m closer to some but not all of them.
How old were you when you knew this was your calling and what you were going to do for the rest of your life?
I was 36 years old when I figured out what my purpose was in life.
Were you a dreamer growing up? What kinds of dreams did you have?
I always dreamed of playing in the WNBA. I think that was my dream for the longest and when it didn’t happen, I kind of stopped dreaming. I think because I stopped dreaming that my life became stagnant. After my lifelong dream didn’t come through, I just started existing and not living. It was like I was going through the motions.
How hard was it breaking into the business? We hear stories all the time of people who try for years and never make it, and then other stories of overnight “in the right place at the right time” sensations.
I don’t consider myself as someone who has broken into the speaking business yet. I started on my birthday in 2019, and everything was going well for a little over a year, and boom, we were hit with the pandemic. Once I speak in front of the right person or people, it will catapult my career as a speaker.
Which one do you think there’s more of? Those who pay their dues or opportunity meeting preparation?
I believe in divine order, and nothing happens by coincidence. Luck is preparation meeting the moment of opportunity. I say that to say, every time someone hits a game-winner (mostly on the professional level in basketball), it’s a shot that they had practiced over and over again when the fans weren’t in the crowds. When they hit the buzzer-beater or game-winning shot in a game, it’s just another shot for them, but now everyone had a chance to witness it!
How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise very competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry, as a business at times can be cutthroat?
I always try to remain true to myself. I’ve always been a person who stays the same so that I never have to switch up in different situations. I keep my values in mind and what initially motivated me to get to where I am today. Lastly, I think about how I want to be remembered. Suppose I feel comfortable with my actions and not make decisions based on other people’s expectations. I place myself in the future by thinking in hindsight that can provide perspective and clarity on how I would want to act.
What advice do you have for others who have THE dream?
My advice to anyone else who has “THE dream” is to create an impact. You are a gift to the world, and there are things the world needs to see, hear, and feel from you. Don’t just think, do it. To create impact, the union of thinking and doing is a necessity. To pursue your dreams, you must activate your thoughts by putting in the work to achieve them. There won’t be any handouts or unique formulas to achieve your dreams, so create your formula. Lastly, don’t give up when someone tells you no or you run into a dead end. Failures are only failures if you don’t learn from them.
How difficult is it to maintain a work-life balance? What measures do you take to ensure that you have that?
I have recently started writing things on a calendar to see where my time is spent each day. I try to treat my work life like a M-F job to spend my weekends with my loved ones. If there’s nothing planned for the weekend, I will try to get ahead with either schoolwork or business-related activities.
Would you consider yourself a driven person? What makes you a powerhouse? What is the source of your strength?
Yes, I do consider myself a driven person when it has something to do with my passion. My passion for helping others in a way that fuels me to want to do more makes me a powerhouse. When you want better for others, you do better! My strength comes from my support system, my battles (US Army co-workers) injured with me, and those that perished.
What are some of the things you do to wind down and relax after grueling events and preparations for them?
The events that I attend are no way, shape, or form grueling for me. The process of preparing for an engagement is like practicing giving a presentation to strangers. I try to treat it like I’m playing in a basketball game in front of thousands of fans that I may or may not know, and when it’s over, I start preparing for the next one. If I did do anything, it’s to talk with my partner about what I could’ve done better for the next one.
What is your definition of peace? What is your definition of success?
My definition of peace is stress-free and clear mind frame with complete calmness, and my life is in complete harmony.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. Success is achieving a specific goal that you have set for yourself, small or large.
What is the one thing you want people to remember most about you and your work?
Well, if I’m honest, this question is a lot more challenging to put into words than I thought it would be. I want to be known for lifting people, helping people, and always being kind and compassionate because you never know what people are going through. I believe that kindness can change lives, heal wounds, and most certainly help others get through a tough day. I want to be remembered as authentic and never changed, no matter what I have been through. I want to be remembered for my heart and humor, my personality, and for making an impact on anyone in a positive way.
What type of legacy do you wish to leave?
I want to leave the legacy of someone who triumphed over her tragedy and turned her pain into her power!
What is the one dream for yourself you most look forward to having come true?
My one dream that I look forward to having come true is putting all these life experiences together with academic knowledge and examples of real-life situations and guiding positive change to occur in people.
If there’s one thing you could change about your past, what would it be?
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think that I’d be the person I am today or be where I am in life if something changed in my past. I also believe that everything is already ordained.
If there’s one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?
There are so many things that need to change to make the world a better place, so this is a tough one to pick. I’ll list a few that I would want to change: racism, cancer, poverty, terrorism, pollution, crime, war, global warming, free education, and free healthcare.
What advice do you have for the young ladies (teens to young adult age) who are growing up in today’s world with so much influence in music that is not always supportive of their best interests? What advice would you give to the young men?
Everything you hear or see on the television or social media isn’t real to the young ladies. This is a job for them, so don’t think you have to do what they are doing or saying. Be you, your unique self, unapologetically.
To the young men, treat women with respect. It’s ok to be vulnerable. Manners matter, be patient and do good things for people.
Is there anything else that has not been asked that you would like featured and brought to the limelight? If so, please, by all means, let us know so that we don’t leave it out.
I am an inspirational speaker, an author, a veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, pinned by President Barack Obama, a former D1 athlete, and the owner of Pain into Power Apparel.
Are you single?
No, I am not single. I will be celebrating four years on March 17, 2021.
How difficult is or was dating in your profession?
For me, it’s not complicated. I think that no matter what profession you’re in, how you are as a person should never waiver.
In your opinion, why are relationships failing today, and if you could remedy them, what would you do?
This generation gives up on relationships quickly, runs to social media to vent about their problems, poor communication, not taking responsibility in the relationship, and people have the wrong intentions these days.
Who’s been the greatest influence in your life?
The greatest influences in my life have been my grandmother, my mother, and my aunt Sherry.
Who do you most admire and why?
I admire my mom the most because she is selfless, has the biggest heart, does everything she possibly can for everybody, never asks for much, loves effortlessly, and is so strong.
Lakeia Stokes is from Covington, Georgia, and graduated from Newton High School, where she still holds the scoring record. She received a 4-year athletic scholarship to the University of Clemson. She became the first player in the school’s history to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and assists in a single season.
Lakeia later joined the United States Army, where she served as a Human Resource Specialist. After serving only four years, Lakeia was medically retired from the Army after being injured by a suicide bomber while deployed in Bagram, Afghanistan. Lakeia was pinned the Purple Heart award by President Barack Obama while recovering from her injuries.
Lakeia is the Owner/Founder of the brand Pain into Power. I created the brand Pain into Power so that when you wear the apparel, you can look down and remember that you turned your pain into power! Having the strength and perseverance to continue to keep going after life throws you so many curve balls is extraordinary and something to be proud of! So, when you’re rocking the Pain into Power apparel, wear it with pride because you’re triumphant! Lakeia also speaks to different organizations to share her story of how she triumph over tragedy and remains resilient to help inspire others worldwide to turn their pain into their power.