Mekia Shanta Valentine, affectionally known as “Kia,” was born March 6, 1988, in Greensboro, North Carolina, and transitioned from this life on Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California. She was born to Lisa Meadows Johnson and Jerome Earl Valentine III, and was adopted and raised by her loving and devoted grandmother, the late Lillian Manns Valentine.

Mekia attended Greensboro Day School, where she began her basketball career as a forward before transferring to Dudley High School for her senior season. She was ranked as the nation’s No. 23 recruit and third-best power forward by the Full Court Press out of high school in Greensboro.

She was a top-notch national recruit and played at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for two seasons, earning Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman honors in 2007.

Mekia then moved on to UC Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California, where she continued her basketball career. She still holds UCSB school records in basketball. She received second team All-Big West Conference honors and was also voted to the Big West All-Tournament team. She made second team all-league. She graduated from UCSB in 2011.

Mekia was a third-round draft pick of the WNBA’s New York Liberty. She was the first UCSB Gaucho since 2005 to be drafted. Mekia opted to play professional basketball overseas in Israel, Poland, Romania and Germany instead, and had a four-year career.

She returned to Santa Barbara after her retirement from basketball. Upon her return, she studied nursing at Santa Barbara City College. She also worked as a human resources assistant for a local computer software company.

“Kia” had an infectious smile that could brighten anyone’s day. She could tell a story that would make you laugh until you cried. She was a very loving and caring person.

Mekia was preceded in death by her grandmother, Lillian Manns Valentine, of Greensboro, North Carolina. Left to cherish her memory are her father, Jerome (Christal) Valentine, and her mother, Lisa Meadows (David) Johnson, both of Greensboro; sisters Maria Meadows, Antanice Meadows and Annetta Meadows, all of Greensboro; her aunt, Leslie Valentine, and niece Lillian Valentine of Atlanta, Georgia; special cousins Kristina Chapman of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Ryan Taylor of Greensboro, North Carolina; and a host of loving aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

A private viewing will be held for immediate family only on April 10, 2020. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Professional services entrusted to Community Funeral Home in Greensboro, North Carolina.