KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Lady Vols open their 2013-14 SEC conference schedule against LSU Thursday by honoring one of the greatest players in the league's history.
Candace Parker will have her #3 jersey retired to the rafters before the game.
Parker is most remembered for the leading the Lady Vols to two consecutive titles in 2007 and 2008.
Parker is the reigning WNBA MVP and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. She will become the sixth Lady Vol to have her number retired.
"I always looked up in the rafters and wasn't picturing my jersey to be up there. I was just trying to put national championships in the rafters as possible. To be able to have my jersey retired, that's just icing on the cake," Parker said.
Parker is expecting the ceremony to be emotional.
Earlier Thursday, she was greeted by fans and boosters at the weekly Big Orange Tipoff Club luncheon.
"These are the best years. You come into Thompson Bowling Area, 20,000 screaming fans for you. Go out to dinner, everybody, good or bad, knows your stats from the night before," said Parker.
Parker says she credits much of her successful basketball career to her former coach Pat Summitt.
Parker was on hand in 2012 when Summit raised the banner in her honor after her retirement, and now Summit will be there during Parker's special night.
"After coming back and being a former player and reading her books and being part of that, I realize how truly special she is," said Parker.
Much has changed since Candace Parker was a Lady Vol. She now has a 3-year-old daughter and is playing professional basketball in Russia during the WNBA off-season.
Parker's family will be alongside her. She credits them for keeping her humble since her childhood.
"She's remained grateful, loyal; she's a good servant to the community. I'm proud of the person she is," said Sarah Parker, Candace's mother.
"She had a spotlight that nobody could ever imagine. For her to handle it the way she has, to persevere and stay hungry, it says a lot about her," said Anthony Parker, Candace's brother and former NBA player.
Parker told fans at the luncheon she would someday like to coach after her playing days are over.
Parker will join Holly Warlick (No. 22), Chamique Holdsclaw (No. 23), Tamika Catchings (No. 24), Bridgette Gordon (No. 30) and Daedra Charles (No. 32) as former Tennessee players to have their jerseys retired.