DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Q&A: Jrue Holiday

The New Orleans Pelicans' point guard is finding his way on the court after helping his wife through brain tumor surgery

David Aldridge

We all take our work home with us. It’s hard not to. You can only hope that your spouse/partner can roll with the punches and be understanding and helpful — and that you can do the same when they bring their stories of angst and frustration about work to the domicile.

There was no such release at the start of this season for New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday — by his own choice.

The 26-year-old didn’t go to work for two months, while his wife, Lauren — a two-time gold medal winner on the U.S. women’s Olympic soccer team, and MVP of the National Womens’ Soccer League in 2013 (Jrue Holiday has maintained since the two met at UCLA that she’s a way better athlete than he is), recovered from brain surgery in October. A benign brain tumor had been discovered near her her orbital socket last fall after she’d complained of persistent headaches. And to make matters worse, the tumor was discovered when Lauren was six months pregnant with the couple’s first child. Lauren gave birth in late September, then underwent the surgery a few weeks later.

After helping Lauren with her rehab in North Carolina, and missing the Pelicans’ first dozen games, Jrue Holiday returned to the team in late November. New Orleans, off to a 2-10 start, needed the 2013 All-Star desperately to help Anthony Davis and stabilize the starting unit. The Pelicans have still been up and down since his return, but that’s not Holiday’s fault; he’s shooting a career-best 45 percent from the floor and putting up his usual solid numbers (15.6 points, 7.4 assists) — including 33 and 10 in a New Orleans win last month over Cleveland.

There are all kinds of thoughts in Jrue Holiday’s mind these days — the Pels are on the outside looking in of the playoff chase in the west,and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next July, one of the top point guard targets available. But at least he can bring his problems home to his healthy wife, and help her take care of their healthy child.

Me: First, and foremost, how is Lauren doing, and how is your daughter doing?

Jrue Holiday: Obviously, my wife still has a couple of treatments, but she’s doing fine. She’s healthy, and that’s all that matters. God’s blessed me with that. And my daughter’s healthy, too. So I’m not complaining.

Me: What’s her name?

JH: Jrue Tyler.

Me: How does she spell that first name?

JH: Same way. I had to keep it in the family.

Me: It’s hard to imagine how someone clears their head and tries to go back to work after such a harrowing experience. What was your approach?

JH: To make sure that my wife was okay. I wasn’t really okay with coming back until she was okay with it. Obviously, I’m pretty sure before I came back, she was like, ‘no, I’m fine,’ or whatever, just because she’s tough. But I wasn’t really comfortable with that. Once I really knew she was okay, and my daughter was okay, and she could really take care of my daughter by herself, then I felt it was time.

Me: Plus, she’s an athlete, too, so she’s going to lie about how she really feels.

JH: For sure! For sure! About everything — especially about dealing with injuries, and being strong, and being tough. But she’s my wife, too. I think I know her better than she thinks.

Me: What did you need to see from her physically before you were cool leaving her alone?

JH: It was really just, so, after injuries, any type of surgery, you have to sleep. That’s the biggest part. And you know when you have a child, you don’t sleep much. I think, for me, that was the biggest part, making sure she could mix in her rest so that her body could heal, and then being up every three hours with our daughter, or whenever she wakes up, or wakes you up, or whatever. I think that was probably the biggest thing. It wasn’t about her being able to carry her, like physically take care of her. I really wanted her to heal before I’d leave her by herself for a little while.

Me: I assume you have somebody helping her at the house.

JH: Yeah.

Me: But are there periods where she’s by herself with the baby?

JH: Yeah. And she does great. She does completely fine. She gets around, she takes care of our daughter. It’s somewhat normal. There’s a little bit of normalcy in a very weird situation.

Me: And you’ve got to get some sleep, too. I remember our first child and what that was like on me physically.

JH: I didn’t sleep much. And that was okay. I didn’t have to sleep. I just had to make sure that my girls were okay.

Me: When you’re on a long trip like this, is it hard to compartmentalize?

JH: Yeah. Especially when you have off time. During the game, it’s obviously business. But off time, man, it’s just like, this is time I could be spending with my daughter and my wife. And being able to help her, or just have quality time. But I feel like everybody goes through that in some sort of way, in any type of job that it is. It doesn’t have to be basketball; it could be a doctor, somebody who works in insurance, whatever it is. But obviously on the road, that’s the hardest time, when you have five or 10 days where you’re not going to see them.

Me: Skype and FaceTime can only do so much.

JH: Every day. You see them every day. But you don’t really get to touch ‘em, or kiss ‘em, or actually, physically see them grow. You feel like you miss out on a lot.

Me: What’s left with Lauren’s rehab?

JH: I think it’s just time, really. Just time to make sure that everything’s okay. Obviously have her checkups and make sure everything’s fine.

Me: How has becoming a father changed you?

JH: It puts a lot of things in perspective. You’re not as angry — actually, I don’t want to say angry. But you’re not as pissed off as much, you know what I mean? That child can definitely brighten up your day. I’m not saying my wife doesn’t. It’s just something different about, I guess, something that you kind of created, and is smiling at you and spending time and falling asleep on your chest. That brings a different type of joy.

Me: This child is cursed to be a great athlete, right?

JH: It’s 50-50. It’s either she’s going to be really good or really bad. Either way, it doesn’t matter to us. She can play violin, she can, I don’t know, be into computers or technology. Or she can be into sports. Whatever. It kind of sucks to think about the pressure that might, I guess, be in the future for her. But obviously, me and my wife, we’ll be able to handle that well and we’ll be able to help her handle that, too.

Me: I do not envy the first guy who comes to the house to take your daughter out.

JH: I mean, that’s gonna be, yeah, I don’t know about that. We can’t think about that just yet. We’ve got about 25, 30 years for that.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

— Wolves guard Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9), Sunday, 10:27 p.m., giving props to one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., and his role in leading the Patriots to an unpossible (that’s spelled correctly — unpossible) comeback victory in Super Bowl LI over the Falcons Sunday night.

THEY SAID IT

“The only person I’m upset at right now is myself. The fourth quarter — I’ve coached like 800 games in this league — you’ve got to do a better job than what I did.”

— Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy, castigating himself for not getting the ball out of Isaiah Thomas’s hands in the fourth quarter of the Pistons-Celtics game last Monday. Thomas scored 24 of his 41 points in the last 12 minutes to lead Boston to a 113-109 win.

“It’s something you’re not going to see on an everyday basis. I don’t think anyone is doing tax returns with that kind of intensity.”

— Blake Griffin, to the Orange County Register, on what it’s like to go through a workout with Kevin Garnett, working with the team this season as a consultant.

“We’re a (bleep) team, but we’re an underrated (bleep) team. That’s as accurately as I can put it.”

— Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle, after his team defeated the Cavaliers in Dallas last Monday, one night after the Mavs upset the Spurs in San Antonio.

More Morning Tip: Howard, Rockets succeed apart from each other | DA’s Top 15 Rankings | How will travel ban affect NBA?

Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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