SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento's Ruthie Bolton is a basketball legend.
She's an original member of the Sacramento Monarchs and a two-time Olympic gold medalist — and she still gives back on and off the court.
"My sister's a year older. She was a superstar," Bolton told CBS13.
Bolton's sister was offered a basketball scholarship to Auburn University – but the school didn't want her.
"I felt this rejection and disappointment and sadness, and I felt like my dreams were over," she said.
That is until her father gave her one piece of advice that Bolton would carry with her for life.
"He said, 'If a door closes, get through a window,' " she said.
Bolton got on a 10-hour bus ride to Auburn University and eventually made the basketball team, even starting as a freshman.
"And the rest is history," she said.
Bolton went on to play in the WNBA and win two gold medals with the U.S. Women's Basketball Team.
But while she was fearless on the court, she was fearful at home.
"It was in the peak of my career when I was playing for the Olympics, for the world championship, but my personal life was not that great," Bolton said.
For ten years, Bolton was the victim of domestic violence.
"I just really questioned who I was," she said.
Now, she's dedicating her post-basketball career to young women who may experience similar trauma.
"I know where you've been," she said. "You can get your power back. You can rewrite your story."
Young women in the Sacramento area were inspired by her message. One who went on to play pro-ball herself.
"My first time seeing her was when she played for the monarchs," Fantasia Hilliard said. "Ruthie stood out to me the most. She was the leader. She was the engine."
Hilliard played basketball for Bolton at Sacramento High School in 2009 before reaching the professional level overseas. She says Bolton's influence on her life is endless.
"She's a great mentor and a great role model," Hilliard said. "I want to be like Ruthie when I grow up because she is just amazing."
Bolton still mentors Hilliard today and continues to pass along her message to women on and off the court.
"To every woman out there, you are a gold medalist. It's never too late to rewrite your story," she said.
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