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Imagine life gives you everything a good career, a loving husband and imperishable fame and your life is going all smooth and sorted. Then you encounter a sudden bump and everything comes to a halt. What would you do? Would you surrender or fight back? Most of the people would leave hope and surrender themselves.
But it wasn’t the case with the double Olympic winner Lauren Holiday. She had won a lot of tournaments for her country but this time it was a fight against her life. Would she be able to win it too?
Lauren Holiday, a famous name in the Soccer game is the native of Indianapolis, Indiana. She had started playing soccer from an early age after getting inspired by her brother. Up till she was 12, she used to play with boys and later she emerged out as a champion in girl’s soccer. Throughout her high school days, she had smashed goals on goals making everyone scared to be her opponent because they knew that they would lose for sure.
Joining The National Team
Soon her talent had become the talk of the town and everyone had started to notice her. She was praised for her skills and was offered to join soccer teams in and around the town. Especially certain national teams too offered her to play for the country while she was just in her high school. So in mid-year, she decided to join the national U-20 team.
This was the beginning of her glittering career with the national team. She won the gold twice at the Olympics in 2008 and 2012 and was also a runner-up in the year 2011 of the World Cup team. After winning several national awards, her career graph increased exponentially when she became a member of the 2011 World Cup team. Her life was going on perfectly smooth then what might have happened that her life changed forever?
Enrolling Into ULCA
Another achievement came her way when she got enrolled at UCLA. Soon after her enrollment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) she was named the first-team All-American and NSCAA Freshman of the Year. In her sophomore year in 2007, she was the runner up of the women’s Hermann Trophy. Everything was going smooth and fine.
On 26th January’07, Lauren Holiday made her first appearance for the U.S women’s national soccer team against Germany. In Mexico, on April 14, 2007, she earned another cap by scoring a goal against Mexico. She also appeared in 3 games but as a substitute helping the U.S team to win gold at the tournament. And soon she became the second-leading scorer with 7 goals in 13 total matches. This was the time when her luck and hard work was paying off.
Love At First Sight
When her career graph was at its heights, love too knocked at her door. Jrue was her batchmate when she was at UCLA, both were pals and their common interest in soccer helped their friendship to grow. Neither of them was aware that this would work as an ice breaker. Soon these pals realized that this wasn’t just friends and they had fallen head over heels in love with each other.
The Other Half
Jrue was born in L.A, a suburb of Chatsworth, California and had first met her in the high school in Studio City, CA. Just like her, he was also the nation’s best high-school player. After having a stellar season with the UCLA Bruins, he scored an NBA draft spot. But it seemed like he was giving full competition to his other half and wasn’t in a mood to stop any sooner.
After a record-breaking performance in 2009, Jrue was considered by the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2013. he became the youngest player to be chosen as an All-Star after performing excellently well. If that wasn’t enough he took down the New York Knicks by 35 points and was considered to be one of his best performances till the date.
In the summer of 2013, Jrue’s left the Philly team when they traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately for the soccer player, he couldn’t play the whole season as he suffered from a stress fracture in his right shin and later he underwent surgery for the same. That was a tough time for the young player but his lady love stood beside him at every point.
After Jrue had recovered from his injuries, they started to pay more attention to their relationship which was also suffering because of every up and down they were going through. They needed something to adhere to in this tough time and get out of it without causing any harm. Their relationship was at a very crucial stage. It was then, after thinking a lot they came to the decision of getting married.
Mark The Date
On 7th July 2013, they tied the knot in presence of their family and friends. They were too excited about their new life and adventures. They knew this wasn’t going to be easy for them but they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with each other and this was what they were sure about. So they went ahead with the idea of getting married.
Marriages aren’t always that easy, it takes a lot of patience and equal participation to work out one. A lot of changes happen after you get married, more responsibilities come on your shoulder which obviously isn’t easy to manage in the starting. Both Lauren and Jrue were going through a similar phase. Would they be able to cope up and work out their marriage along with their careers?
Figuring Things Out
Both Lauren and Jrue were trying to figure out things and build a strong relationship. But due to lack of time, they weren’t able to be there for each other as much as they wanted to be. Most of the time when they used to come home, one or the other person wouldn’t be there. And this was somehow loosening the tight bond they used to have before marriage.
Sometimes you need to make hard decisions especially when you have to choose between two of your favorite things and it becomes the hardest when both the things are special to you. What would you do when you know you would have to sacrifice the one out of the two. And what if you have to choose between your married life and your passion, it would be hardest of all the decisions to take. What would Lauren and Jrue do?
Choices are always hard to make but you have to sacrifice one thing to keep the other. Lauren took a major step in her career as well as in her life when she chose to quit her soccer career when she was at the top. This was surely a tough decision for her but she did it for her family and her love. Would this be able to save her marriage?
In 2015, she told a website: “a new chapter of my life. I feel like this team isn’t my identity, it’s my choice. I think there’s power in making a choice. I chose this team for 10 years, and now I’m going to choose my family.” And stepped back from her passion to be there for her husband and cheer him up during his matches by being present at his games.
High In Love
Lauren said in an interview praising her husband, “Jrue’s been phenomenal. He’s been to every major tournament of mine. I haven’t been able to reciprocate for him. So I think what I look forward to most is being able to be there. When he has a tough game, or something to celebrate, he can come home, and I’ll be there.”
Soon after announcing her retirement in 2015, she announced her pregnancy to the world. This was another chapter she was embracing in her life. Everything around her was changing, Jrue was trying his best to be there for his wife whenever she needed him. They both were happy about the new start of their life.
She had very smooth months of pregnancy until she started to feel severe pain in her head whose intensity increased with each passing day. She thought it to be normal and took some medicines but that too didn’t decrease the pain. Jrue became apprehensive about the headaches that Lauren was facing and wanted to take her to the hospital but she denied saying it was normal.
One night, Jrue wake up in the middle of the night and was surprised to find Lauren on the couch and her hands were on her head. Jrue was taken aback by this sight and without thinking much he took her inside the car. And fixed an appointment with the doctor while he drove her to the hospital without a delay. Why was she having such severe pain?
After several tests and MRIs, she came to know that it was a tumor on the right-hand side of her face slowly spreading its evil trap close to her eyes. In the test, it came out that she had a meningioma, a tumor of the membrane that encloses the brain. It was not that harmful but if it was not operated upon then it might pose a serious problem.
In an interview with one of the leading news channels in 2016, he said meningiomas aren’t something that could be ignored. He continued. “Meningiomas are the most common benign tumor in humans. Just because they’re benign doesn’t mean they don’t cause trouble. Meningiomas can be harmful if they get too big.” But the time she was diagnosed she was pregnant, what would they do now?
While there were so many things happening in Lauren’s life, Jrue too started facing a lot of problems due to his previous injuries. His previous fracture posed a problem suddenly and he wasn’t able to compete in the season. His health too was deteriorating but he had to be strong for his wife and give her strength and hope.
Since the tumor’s discovery, the couple had many sleepless nights and was constantly worried about the baby’s health and well being. So after a lot of speculations and discussions with the doctor they wanted to be sure for the baby’s health and how the surgery would proceed. The doctor reassured them about the surgery and said it could only be done once she had delivered the baby.
They were relieved about the well being of the baby, they were now concerned about Lauren’s health. As the surgery could be only done after the delivery it meant that they had to wait for at least 2 more months to proceed with the treatment. Now they feared that the tumor might grow so that had to take measures to stop it from growing further without harming the kid growing inside her womb.
Several medications were given to Lauren to help prevent the tumor from growing any further. Doctors were sure that they would be able to cut the growth out and Lauren would be able to return to perfect health like before. But the 2 months seemed like a long period for the couple though he had assured about the wellbeing of the baby there were still doubts in the couple’s mind.
The time of the delivery came closer, which was due mid-October and the couple’s excitement, as well as nervousness, was at the peak. At the same time, Jrue had to travel around due to his tournaments. Lauren had already told Jrue to concentrate on his upcoming season but how could he leave his wife and an unborn child in this situation and go around the world to play. What would he do now?
It was hard for Jrue to choose between the two options, both were important to him. Even after Lauren’s continues assurance that she would handle everything, he wanted to be there for his wife and the kid. On the other hand, he didn’t want to leave the tour too. So without wasting any more time he went to his coach who happened to be his best friend too for the advice.
When he went to his coach for advice he simply told him to follow his heart because the heart knows what is right at the moment. It seemed to Jrue that someone had said what his heart was telling him from days. So without wasting any more time he clarified his priorities to his family and the rest of the world. What choices he might have made that day?
So, in an interview, Jrue announced his decision to New Orleans newspaper named The Times-Picayune in September 2016. He told the newspaper: “My family comes before basketball. I’m obviously blessed to play this game and be in the position I am in, but my wife is the most important thing in the world to me. She comes before anything else.”
The star continued and said, “Obviously, we were and are still very excited about the birth of our first child, but our focus shifted from having this magnificent blessing to making sure everything is going to be okay with Lauren and the child. Our priorities right now are being able to manage Lauren’s symptoms and still have a fairly healthy pregnancy.”
Family Comes First
Once he had announced his decision to the world he had to explain it to his family too. Later in an interview, Mom Toya explained it to the official site Pelicans.com, “He came to us and said, ‘You know, with Lauren being ill, I have to talk to the Pelicans and tell them that I’m going to be with my wife.’” And he was aware of the consequences of his decisions but for him, nothing mattered more than his family at that point.
Making Everyone Proud
Though this decision potentially had the ability to ruin his career forever, keeping aside all the things that could happen wrong he focused on his wife and his kid. Jrue’s parents were proud of their son’s choices and stood beside him in his every decision. He even told the basketball star, “Hey, we’re standing behind you. It’s not a big deal. You can go back to school. We’re good with that.” she added, “I was really proud of him because he could have run away from that.”
He had made his decision clear to the world as well as his family still he was apprehensive about how the higher authorities would take his decision. After all, his whole career was dependent on them. So when they heard about his decision, the Pelicans’ top brass’ response astonished him. Not only did they support his decision and stood beside him, they too confirmed that they would handle the performances on the field in his absence during the start of the season. They also came forward in August 2016 to figure things out with him.
In one of the interviews, the head coach Alvin Gentry said, “The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is to be with his wife and family.” And understood his problem and added, “Every one of our coaches and players understands what Lauren and Jrue are going through, and they know we’re behind them 100 percent. We’ll continue to do everything we can to support them and help them get through these hard times.”
The general manager Dell Demps too said something similar in a separate statement and wrote, “We encourage Jrue to take as much time as he needs to be with his wife and family before returning to the Pelicans.” He confirmed that for them the well being of the people was their priority and added, “We understand that Jrue will miss some games, and his teammates are prepared to step up in his absence.”
Understanding The Situation
Dell was acquainted with the pain Jrue was going through, so it was easy for him to understand his current state of mind and relate to him. His wife Anita, too was the survivor of cancer. She had cancer in her ovary and a few years back she had also undergone surgery to remove cancer from the brain. But she had been brave and endless support of her spouse and family made her recover from the fatal disease in a short span of time. When Dell heard about Lauren he didn’t think twice and favored his decision.
Appreciating The Support
With the immense support, Jrue too felt confident about his decision as the dark clouds on his career had cleared off now he could easily concentrate on his wife’s treatment and his baby. In an interview with the Times-Picayune, he said, “The Pelicans have been great. There wasn’t any pressure to be with the team or to choose between my team and my wife. They told me to be a husband first. I don’t think they know how much their support means to me and my family.”
While they were happy about the endless support they were getting from his team, another member’s words too empowered them. Becky Sauerbrunn who was Lauren’s former teammates shared her thoughts. She had played alongside Jrue’s wife at F.C. Kansas City, told the news channel, “She’s just a very resilient, strong person and she has strong faith, and that’s helping her in keeping her strong during this time because it is scary.”
Becky Sauerbrunn wasn’t the only one who came forward in the couple’s tough time, another fellow F.C. Kansas City who was also a national team star, Heather O’Reilly too reminded the world of Lauren’s contribution and said, “We’re there for her. We’re all behind her. That’s kind of what times like this sort of show, is how close-knit this soccer community is.”
So on the due date, exactly after 2 months of receiving the diagnosis, Lauren delivered her baby girl. Fortunately, the baby was born healthy and even scaled a bit more than 6 pounds. The newly born’s parents named the kid after her father. After the delivery was successful now their concern drifted towards Lauren’s surgery. What would happen now?
Safe And Sound
The delivery itself wasn’t an easy task for the doctors and the mother, due to the tumor doctors suggested an early delivery. So she had to undergo an induction to allow the baby girl to be born. Luckily, the mother and the kid both were fine which was a relief for the family as well as the doctor. Now the next task was to get the tumor out of her. Would they be successful?
A Month Later
A month after the delivery, Lauren prepared herself for the surgery which took place at Duke University Hospital. It is difficult to cut out a meningioma, surgeons needed to take special care while removing the tumor so as to avoid cutting the vital part of the nervous system. She also had to undergo radiation therapy to attack the remaining tumor out of her body.
The Happy Face
Later describing her hard journey, she shared her newborn’s photo. She wrote on Instagram,”I have never quite known suffering like I experienced the last six months. I can remember countless nights repeating ‘there may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.’ I remember half believing it and half still in disbelief that this was my life.”
Lauren told her followers on Instagram how her daughter who was merely a month old gave her strength and power to fight the tumor. She further wrote on her post, “I memorized scripture and some days my faith felt unshakable and others I was scared to death. Every time I see this smile I’m reminded that joy does come in the morning. Maybe not the next day, maybe not even the next month but it comes. I can’t imagine what heaven will be like if this is the joy I get to experience on earth. Psalm 30:5.”
Months after her surgery she remained away from the world as well as from the camera but on Mother’s Day, she shared her picture and wrote, “I have been hiding myself from a camera for the past seven months. I didn’t want anyone to see my paralyzed face, my eye that is now crossed, the bald spots from radiation and my half-shaved head. Granted you can’t see any of those things in this picture, just a patch… it’s a huge step.”
Following His Passion
Once Lauren had recovered a bit and was back on her feet, it was time for her husband to get back on the field. He seemed to be more energetic and enthusiastic when he returned and didn’t let anyone utter complain about his performance due to his absence. He had learned a lot of things from his experience and out of all these, patience was one of them. He had started to follow his passion more rigorously which was seen in all of his matches.
In one of the interviews, Jrue told USA Today, “I have people in my circle who tell me all the time how good they think I am, which I’m just going to say is my wife.” He then explained how valuable her opinions were for him in the personal as well as professional life. “she’s probably the most successful athlete in my family.”Everything was coming back on track and he was happy about the same.
He also added in the interview that his daughter Jrue Jr is a big fan of him and loves to watch him play and even cheer out for him. He said, “She loves seeing me at certain instances in the game – if there’s a timeout, or there’s a break – and I can look up to her and wave at her and blow a kiss. I think there’s joy in just knowing that my family’s okay. Being able to know that my home life is fine, I feel like it reflects the way that I play.”
After getting back on the field, he is now aiming for the 2019–20 season. He is making plans for further matches and aiming to become one of the best NBA players as he was before. After the successful surgery of his wife, he wants to touch new heights in the game. All the NBA fans are waiting for his performance while expecting cute and sweet cheer from Jrue Jr. too.