Monday, November 14 - Celtics at Pelicans
Pregame – Celtics Comment on Jrue Holiday's Difficult Journey
NEW ORLEANS – Jrue Holiday has always been regarded as a strong basketball player. During the last couple of months, however, he has showcased the strength he possesses as a person.
The 26-year-old Pelicans point guard has been absent from the court for the last couple of months while caring for his ailing wife and newborn daughter.
His wife, Lauren, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States women’s national soccer team, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Sept. 4. On top of that, she was pregnant with the couple’s first child.
In late September, Lauren gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and then one month later underwent successful brain surgery to remove her tumor.
Jrue has been away from the Pelicans and taking care of his wife and daughter during the difficult time, but according to New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry, he could be returning to the court as soon as this week.
“All the guys realize what he’s been through and how tough it’s been for him,” Gentry said Monday night before tipping off against the Boston Celtics. “Not just the fact that he’s going through the thing with his wife, but to have a newborn kid also is extremely tough.
“That’s why we wanted him to do it on his terms, when he felt comfortable to come back, so that he could just play basketball and not worry so much about everything that’s going on. And he wasn’t going to be able to do that until he was comfortable with his wife and comfortable with his kid.”
Holiday’s story hit home for Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Lauren grew up in Stevens’ home state of Indiana and he says he closely followed her soccer career while she played for Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, and then at UCLA and on the national team.
“She’s always had the reputation of a fighter, and this would be the best definition of that based on what I’ve heard,” Stevens said prior to the game. “I talked to Alvin Gentry a little bit earlier today and he was telling me about how tough she’s been, how tough he’s been through it all, so our thoughts are certainly with both of them and I’ve got a lot of respect for both of them.”
The story also had an impact on Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, who played with Jrue’s brother, Justin, at the University of Washington. Thomas wished to relay a message to Jrue ahead of Monday’s game.
“Stay strong for your family. Take care of your responsibilities,” said Thomas. “I definitely pray for him and his family.”
The Holidays are in the thoughts and prayers of players and coaches all around the NBA, and that fraternity couldn’t be happier that Jrue may return to the court soon.
- Taylor C. Snow