Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Occupation: Child Welfare Intake and Placement Specialist
Starting Weight: 366 pounds
Current Weight: 352 pounds
Though Vanessa Hayden struggled with her weight through the years, she was never overweight until she retired from the WNBA in 2010. The 6'4" basketball star, who was born in Orlando, Florida, is the third child and was raised by her grandmother with her three cousins and two brothers. Hayden began playing basketball at age 11 and immediately excelled, which led to her being recruited by several prestigious basketball colleges out of high school. She decided to attend the University of Florida, where she enjoyed an illustrious basketball career for the Gators and earned her bachelor's degree in family youth and community sciences in 2004. She was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, an All-American athlete and was drafted seventh overall in the 2004 WNBA draft. She played for the WNBA for six seasons until she was released by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2010. Johnson believes the Sparks let her go because of her weight gain. Her weight problems accelerated after her retirement as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise. Now 32 years old and 366 pounds, Vanessa suffers from severe back and joint pain. She is engaged and wants to get healthy so she can be there for her seven-year-old daughter and one-year-old son. Her daughter has expressed an interest in sports, and Hayden looks forward to teaching her the game of basketball after she loses the weight.