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Mo’ne Davis: In a league of her own

Rising national athlete wants her humble South Philadelphia upbringing to inspire disadvantaged youth.

You can’t forget her name.

She throws a 70 miles per hour (110/h) fastball and is the first girl to earn a win and pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history.

Mo’ne Davis is the youngest to athlete to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her popularity has led to starring in Spike Lee directed Chevrolet commercials, lucrative sneaker and book deals, meeting (and being tweeted by) First Lady Michelle Obama and being recognized by the President.

At 13, the South Philadelphia native has not only made a name for herself professionally, but has re-shaped the national discourse on how we view youth athleticism, women in sports, and advocacy for the disadvantaged.

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The Barnes & Noble bookstore on Rittenhouse Square was packed Saturday afternoon for the book signing of Davis’ new memoir, Mo’ne Davis: Remember My Name: My Story From First Pitch to Game Change (HarperCollins Children’s Books).

The book touches on Davis’ modest upbringing — something she hopes encourages disadvantaged youth.

“Everyone — no matter where they come from — should have an opportunity,” Davis said confidently among the sea of reporters and photographers. “My book explains a lot about myself on the team and being a girl playing.”

As she kindly requested to use a pen instead of a Sharpie marker for signing (because she felt it made her handwriting “look funny”) Davis handled the flock of family, friends, and fans gracefully.

“I want to always be humble and stay the same,” Davis remarked before high-fiving all of her Taney Dragon teammates who posed for a group photo with her. “I don’t ever want to forget where I come from and to stay nice.”

And as she has seen her journey spotlighted in magazines, television interviews, and a new book — she can now expect to see it portrayed in an upcoming Disney Channel original movie.

Yet despite the busy travel schedule and “crazy crowd of followers with cameras in New York,” Davis still claims she is “a Philly girl at heart.”

“I love the food,” Davis said with an immediate smile about what excites her most about growing up in Philadelphia. “I especially love eating cheesesteaks at Lazaro’s.”

And even though the world was introduced to her pitching epic shutouts, she actually has a long-term goal of being a star UConn basketball player and eventually playing professionally for the WNBA.

“Everyone has to get their education… I want to graduate first,” said Davis, who is an honor roll student and whose favorite subject is history. “I want to be more than just an athlete.”

 
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