“Once I got past my anger toward my mother, I began to excel in volleyball and modeling.” Gabrielle Reece
A professional volleyball player and model, Gabrielle Reece began gathering national athletic tributes before she turned professional. Besides receiving All-Tournament accolades many times during her years at Florida State, she reached No. 5 in career blocks while competing in the NCAA. She also was named the 1990 Most Inspiring Collegiate Athlete in the country by Dodge National Athletic Awards Committee. Reece has participated in the Bud Light Pro Beach Volleyball League (1993-1997), spending four of her five years in the league as Captain of the Nike team. The Offensive Player of the Year (1994 and 1995), she led the league in blocks in her first year, and in all but her final season, she attained the most kills.
Reece’s side career as a model won her even more popularity. In addition to having been a spokesmodel for Nike, she has graced on the covers of such fashion and lifestyle magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and Life, and Playboy. Reece has worked as Also a sports commentator for MTV, CBS and most recently, USA Sports, and has made occasional film appearances in Gattaca (1997) and Cloud 9 (2006). She has co-written a book about her life as a pro beach volleyball player, “Big Girl in the Middle” (1997), and has been a columnist for Women’s Sports & Fitness and Elle magazines.
Personally speaking, Reece has been married to extreme surfer Laird Hamilton since 1997. Their first child, daughter Reece Viola Hamilton was born in October 2003.
Childhood and Family:
Gabrielle Reece was born on January 6, 1970, in La Jolla, California, and spent her early youth living on Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. She later moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where Gabby, as she is known by her friends, started playing volleyball at the high school level. Due to her talents in sports, she won an athletic scholarship to Florida State University in 1987, and majored in Communications. In 1997, she was inducted into the Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Gabby was married to surfer Laird John Hamilton on November 30, 1997. They have one child together, daughter Reece Viola Hamilton, who was born in October 2003.
On and Off the Court
An excellent volleyball player in high school, Gabrielle Reece accepted a scholarship from Florida State University (FSU), where she led the league in kills four times and blocks once. From 1987 to 1990, she played pro beach volleyball for the Lady Foot Locker team, in which she set season records for solo and total blocks, as well as received a number of All-Tournament honors. In her junior year, Reece was chosen as the country’s Most Inspiring Collegiate Athlete, and later, in 1997, FSU inducted her into the Florida State University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Reece started her modeling career while attending FSU. In early 1989, the beautiful girl joined the Ford Agency of New York, and before year’s end, was named Elle magazine’s one of the five most beautiful women in the world. Her modeling career went on to achieve boost with appearances on the covers of such magazines as Shape, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, ELLE, Outside and Women’s Sports & Fitness. Reece, however, maintained to take volleyball as her priority.
In 1993, Reese became the first ever female cross-training spokesperson for Nike, where she was featured along side Bo Jackson in television ads. The same year, she also began competing in the 4-person Bud Light Pro Beach Volleyball League, where she guide in blocks during her first season, and kills her first four. The next year, she was the captain of team Nike, and was selected as the League’s Offensive Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons.
Venturing into hosting, Reece hosted segments of MTV Sports, where she held the role from 1993 to 1996, and the 1995 TV show “The Extremists,” in which she had to try her hand at diverse high energy activities like white-water kayaking, drag racing, and skydiving. From 1994 through 1995, Reece also found herself writing a sports and fitness column for Elle magazine, and in 1997, she published an autobiography called “Big Girl in the Middle,” which chronicles her victories and defeats as a top female pro athlete. She co-wrote the book with Karen Karbo. Still in 1997, she also began contributing a regular column for Women’s Sports & Fitness magazine, as well as appeared in her first film, Gattaca (1997), playing a fitness trainer.
1999 saw Reece switch to competing in the two-person Federation of International Volleyball circuit, and posted nonstop thirds with associate Holly McPeak during their first season together. In January 2001, she appeared on the cover of Playboy, with an accompanying pictorial.
In addition to volleyball, Reece also has set her eyes on golf. Trained with coach Claude Harmon, she became the first woman to compete at the 2002 the American Century Pro Celebrity Golf Tournament. In November, she got another job as a reporter, covering golf for USA Sports, including the PGA Tour in 2003.
In 2006, Reece hosted the news show “Men’s Health Minutes.” The same year, she had her second film outing with Cloud 9, a sport-themed starring Burt Reynolds and Paul Rodriguez. There, she played the supporting role of Christina Hansen.