New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday will miss an indefinite amount of the basketball season while he cares for his wife, who will have brain surgery later this year to remove a benign tumor, The Times-Picayune reported.
Doctors discovered the tumor near Lauren Holiday’s orbital socket on the right side of her brain. According to The Times, she had been experiencing painful headaches, which forced her to undergo an MRI in June, when doctors discovered the tumor. Jrue Holiday said the news was “devastating.”
“My family comes before basketball,” Jrue Holiday told The Times. “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.”
Doctors told the family that the tumor is operable but that they do not want to operate until after Lauren has given birth to the couple’s unborn daughter.
“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 OK with Lauren and the child,” Jrue said. “Our priorities right now are being able to manage Lauren’s symptoms and still have a fairly healthy pregnancy.”
The couple’s daughter was originally due in mid-October, but the couple hopes to induce birth early.
Lauren’s the tumor won’t be operated on until six weeks after her delivery.
The diagnosis is no threat to the couple’s child, and doctors said that Lauren is expected to make a full recovery once she’s undergone surgery, Deadspin reported.
“Lauren has her good days and her bad days; some are better than others,” The Times quoted Jrue as saying. “She’s obviously a fighter, the toughest woman I know. That’s the reason why I married her.”
Lauren Holiday, 28, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. women’s national soccer team. She retired last year at the peak of her career after winning the World Cup to start a family with Jrue.
Jrue and Lauren met while in college at UCLA, where the two competed on athletic teams. Jrue was a star player on the basketball team, and Lauren shined on the soccer team.
Holiday, 26, was drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded to the Pelicans in 2013.
The couple married in July 2013, the same month Jrue was traded to the Pelicans
“The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is be with his wife and family,” Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said in a statement. “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.”
“We encourage Jrue to take as much time as he needs to be with his wife and family before returning to the Pelicans,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said in a statement. “We understand that Jrue will miss some games, and his teammates are prepared to step up in his absence. We will welcome Jrue back with open arms when he is ready to return to the team.”
“The Pelicans have been great,” Jrue said.” 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.”
The Pelicans training camp begins Sept. 24, and the season opener is Oct. 26.
Jrue asked fans for prayers saying, “Really pray for my family. We can take all the prayers that we can get.”
Notable athletes were among those that reached out to the family with positive messages.