Morning Briefing: USC’s Cindy Marina wears multiple hats, and one is a crown


On one continent, Cindy Marina is a 5-foot-11 setter on the USC women’s volleyball team. The pride of Great Oak High in Temecula, Calif., was a high school All-American and a nominee for California Gatorade player of the year.

Volley to the other side of the globe and Marina wears the crown as the new Miss Universe Albania.

The soon-to-be 21-year-old will represent the country at the 2019 Miss Universe pageant in South Korea in late December — not too long after the upcoming USC volleyball season ends. She won the title Saturday at the Palace of Congresses in Tirana, Albania.


Known in Albania as a professional model, Marina also has been a model athlete as a setter on the country’s national volleyball team since 2015. The team finished second in the European Volleyball League last summer.

Marina, who was born in Chicago, connects to Albania through her mother, Kristina, who played pro volleyball there, and her father, Ardian, who played college soccer there. Her parents are from the municipality of Shkoder.

Marina, who will be a senior next season, has compiled 711 assists, 214 digs and 45 service aces in 48 matches over two years with USC. She is a business major who transferred after an all-ACC academic freshman season at Duke.

“This is so surreal and this journey has been nothing short of incredible,” Marina posted on her Instagram account. “I look forward to a beautiful year as Miss Universe Albania and want to thank everyone who has supported me and given me love during this! I cannot wait for what lies ahead!”

Truth serum


Paul Pierce admits there “is a lot of noise in the CBD market.” And he has added to it.

The former Boston Celtics and Inglewood High star said in a news release that he has partnered in the Truth CBD Remedies, playing off his NBA nickname. His plan is to tap into legal hemp-derived cannabidiol sales, using a vape pen cartridge line as an entry point to a group of products called Eaze Wellness.

Pierce said he used CBD to manage his recovery from a life-threatening stabbing in 2000, which led to post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

Following the federal legalization of hemp in December, experts say more research is needed on CBD and that it has only been proved to treat epilepsy. Other health benefits remain anecdotal.

“I’m passionate about making sure athletes have support before, during and after the main event,” Pierce, an analyst at ESPN during the NBA Finals, said in a statement.

Reading a rival

Adding to the summer reading list for “books that don’t appear to have any sort of sports hook but kinda do” sub-genre, we uncovered “The Right Swipe,” a novel by Alisha Rai, with 4.17 out of 5 stars on


It won’t be released until July 2, but reviewers are enamored of its modern trappings of online dating. Main character Rhiannon Hunter is at odds with Samson Lima, who works for a rival dating app company. More troubling for her is that Lima suffers from the neurological effects of his pro football career.