Connect with us

Sports

How Jrue Holiday found his voice as a leader with help from his soccer star wife

Published

on

How Jrue Holiday found his voice as a leader with help from his soccer star wife

When Jrue Holiday was a teenager, he needed to make some extra money.

He had a knack for bagging groceries, arranging cans of soup alongside bags of grapes to maximum efficiency. So, he went to his mother, Toya, the athletic director at his school, Campbell Hall in Los Angeles, and asked if he could apply for a job at his local grocer Vons.

“I wanted to go to the movies and get something to eat and not look lame. I had to have a little extra chicken on me,” Holiday said. “So, I tried. But my mom was like, ‘No, school is your job.’ So I ended up not having a job.”

But, when the women’s tennis team was looking for a manager, Toya volunteered her son. At the time, Holiday couldn’t tell a drop shot from a kick serve.

Holiday was one of the best basketball players in the country, but this was a new experience. He was no longer a star player. His job was to grab sandwiches and pack bags. He learned to sacrifice and do the things no one else wanted to do for the betterment of the team.

Advertisement

“We got out of school early, we’d go to Santa Barbara all the time, and I’m around a bunch of women, so I’m not mad,” Holiday said. “I got a state ring out of it. It was fun.”

As tennis manager, Holiday wasn’t on the court, so he had to find ways to build bonds away from it. By the time he got to the NBA years later, it was natural.

Giannis Antetokounmpo remembers one night in Abu Dhabi when they sat on the team bus until the crack of dawn, watching the desert sun begin to rise.

“We were just talking about life,” Antetokounmpo told The Athletic. “He was really open in how they were dealing with some things and how they can help us not deal with that stuff. They had such good advice for me and my career and my life moving forward.”

That night, “they” meant Jrue and his wife, Lauren, former star of the U.S. national soccer team. Through their experiences in sports and life, the Holidays have gained a unique perspective and take time to share it.

Advertisement

“I’m just learning that basketball isn’t everything,” Holiday said. “I’m learning that sometimes people are going through things and you might not know because of how strong they are. Like Giannis is one of those types. Not just Giannis, but I feel like men in general, it’s hard for us to kind of open up and do all that. Building the chemistry and getting to know people and their life story, I feel like that opens up a gateway of sharing things that they might be going through at the time.”

Holiday’s Milwaukee Bucks teammates called him the missing piece of their championship run three years ago. It wasn’t just for how he defended. It was how he kept the locker room together and helped his teammates grow on and off the court.

After years of coming up short, the Boston Celtics brought him in to do the same thing.

But he doesn’t do it alone. When you trade for Holiday, you trade for Lauren too. He and Lauren welcomed teammates into their family, hosting dinners and doing community service. They sought to intertwine their lives away from the game.

“It’s almost synonymous. I don’t think of Jrue without thinking of Lauren,” former Bucks assistant coach Chad Forcier said. “Just two of my favorite people I’ve ever encountered, like, as humans. Whoever encounters Jrue and Lauren, you just come away feeling better about life, about humanity.”

Advertisement

What Holiday brought to Milwaukee was a sense of community. He helped build chemistry with his teammates.

“I don’t just look at him as a basketball player, man, he was a true friend of mine,” Khris Middleton said. “Off the court, he was able to make everybody around here comfortable by being able to talk to him, being able to hang out, being able to throw anything on him.”

For Holiday, he believes that trust is the foundation for any team sport — it’s difficult to win without it.

“For me, just knowing the person next to me, I trust them and they trust me just as much as I trust them,” he said. “Again, it just makes not only life, but it makes basketball, so much more fun to play.”


Jrue Holiday with Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo with the Milwaukee Bucks. (Rocky Widner / NBAE via Getty Images)

Holiday understood empathy would be a crucial tool for success as he found his way in the NBA, but it wasn’t until he watched his wife’s career arc as a soccer star that it fully clicked. Lauren and Jrue Holiday met when they were both athletes at UCLA. She had seen a fan mistake him for his Bruins teammate Darren Collison and wanted to say something encouraging.

Advertisement

“He was like, ‘Dang, I really look like Darren Collison?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, don’t worry, you’re cuter than Darren,’” Lauren said.

By the time she left UCLA, she was already a starter on the national team and had become one of the top American players at the 2011 World Cup. When she sprained her ankle in the final and had to be subbed off at halftime as Japan went on to win on penalties, it became a defining moment in both of their careers.

“My wife is the winner in our family, which I’m not sure people know,” Jrue Holiday said. “I got to experience one of the best teams, one of the best players get to the top and not reach the goal they wanted. Just how she reacted, it made her even hungrier. (In) 2012, she won the Olympic gold medal and then she went on to win the 2015 World Cup and she retired. Seeing that competitive nature out of her, seeing how she bounced back, people don’t really know she’s that type of beast, and I think having that in my household, seeing it firsthand, helped a lot.”

“It’s funny because I feel like when I was going through the peaks and valleys, he was always my sounding board,” Lauren said. “So for him to say that he’s learned from me is interesting, because I feel like I was constantly learning from him.”

Advertisement

Lauren retired in 2015 to start a family, just as Holiday was trying to get healthy and bring his career on track with the New Orleans Pelicans. They became fixtures in the New Orleans community, founding the JLH Fund as Holiday donated $5 million to initiatives supporting minority communities.

As he entered his prime and started making All-Defensive teams, the Bucks came calling. While the spotlight shone brighter, Lauren was there to keep his ego and life in check.

“She was always there to keep me humble and just to know that in our household, I’m not the best,” Holiday said. “Then through the hard times, she was always there to steer me in the right direction. Helping me in stressful situations, ‘What do I do about basketball?’ She’s just always my support system.”

Holiday’s perspective on life shifted when Lauren faced her biggest challenge. In 2016, a few months before the due date of their first child, doctors discovered Lauren had a brain tumor that would require surgery.

Holiday asked himself, “What do I do about basketball?” The answer was to pause, staying home for the first three weeks of the season to take care of Lauren and their newborn daughter, Jrue Tyler.

Advertisement

“I think Jrue just followed his heart. He was like, ‘I’m absolutely taking time off, and I’m going to be with you,’” Lauren said. “Watching him navigate that, I think he grew tremendously in that time and being able to be like a rock for so many people, I feel like it’s just the epitome of what Jrue is.”


When Holiday joined the Bucks, Donte DiVincenzo was in his third season and coming into his own as a full-time starter. He was the first player Holiday took under his wing in Milwaukee.

“That’s my big brother,” DiVincenzo said. “The second I got to Milwaukee, he embraced me and helped me grow off the court. It’s helped shape who I am now. …Everything escalated so quickly with our friendship.”

As the Bucks’ backcourt partners formed their bond, Lauren was part of the package. When DiVincenzo, who had played on several teams, had to decide his next stop in free agency he reached out to Stephen Curry and Holiday. Both players had become mentors, but it was Lauren who provided good counsel.

“Everybody made a big deal of Steph, but Lauren was a huge voice,” DiVincenzo said. “She is very well respected (by) his closest friends because she’s an athlete, she understands everything and she’s done it herself.”

Advertisement

As DiVincenzo laid out his options to Holiday, the Celtics guard was listening and analyzing every potential outcome.

“Donte called Jrue at midnight and we were in bed. I just said, ‘He has to take the contract,’” Lauren said. “Jrue was like, ‘My wife has spoken.’”

According to Lauren, Holiday is more laid back, while she is more vocal. It’s no surprise then that she took to Instagram to voice her frustration when Holiday was suddenly traded by the Bucks to the Blazers last offseason before landing in Boston.

“What made the decision for me to speak out about it was seeing my daughter cry,” Lauren said.

“I saw how crushed she was. I knew that she would be OK, but I saw the guilt in Jrue’s eyes, that it was almost his fault that she was so devastated.”

Holiday knew the trade was out of his hands. They wanted more of a heads-up from the Bucks, but that’s not how business in the NBA usually works. Seeing his daughter and realizing the toll the trade was taking on his family was hard.

Advertisement

“When you have kids and they’re the most important thing to you, you want to protect them at all costs,” he said. “Sometimes when you feel like the reason somebody is hurting is because of you, especially my daughter, I was heartbroken.”

For the first time in his career, Holiday was not being brought in to reshape the team. In Boston, Holiday’s willingness to adapt would be tested more than at any other point in his career.

In Milwaukee, he was often the Bucks’ primary creator. He guarded the best opposing player almost every night.

But Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla had made it clear in preseason that Derrick White would be the Celtics’ point guard. Holiday’s role would be whatever the team needed it to be. He could go from playing shooting guard to power forward to point guard in a single quarter.

“He finds so much joy in seeing other people succeed that, for him, he understands what that balance is like,” Celtics assistant coach Charles Lee said.

Advertisement

That’s something Al Horford has done in Boston for years. He’s the center whose role was to move the ball, taking the shots whenever he’s open. When Holiday arrived and people wondered how he would adjust to being away from the ball, Horford knew it would work.

“He’s like the ultimate team guy. Like, he really is here to win,” Horford said. “There’s no nonsense with him. But he also knows that we’ve had some success here and the way that I perceive it is he doesn’t want to come in and necessarily step on people’s toes. But he will speak his mind.”


Jrue Holiday has become an integral part of the Celtics this season. (Brian Fluharty / Getty Images)

Holiday has found a home on and off the floor in Boston. When his four-year, $135 million extension was agreed to by the Celtics, he received word while was out at dinner with Lauren and DiVincenzo, now with the Knicks.

“Witnessing that gives you motivation and gives you perspective,” DiVincenzo said. “It just shows you during those moments, what is important to him is his family.”

Unlike DiVincenzo, Holiday has never been a free agent. The league has always chosen his next stop, but he and Lauren have always found a way to make it a home. So when it was time to take a pay cut and sign an extension or test the free-agent market, the decision was simple.

Advertisement

“When it came down to it, he was like, ‘I feel like I’m supposed to be here,’” Lauren said. “Even though it’s different and he’s obviously playing a different role, he was like, ‘I’m not a quitter. I want to be here and I want to see how far we go.’”

Lauren said the second he signed the contract, they discussed how they could help the community. She asked her husband where they wanted to plant their roots, “Because I think for Jrue and I, it feels like home when we’re serving others.”

Then as the playoffs began shortly after his extension, Holiday was scoring in the single digits, but Boston was still rolling. It didn’t matter.

“As long as I’ve known Jrue, he couldn’t care less about accolades,” Lauren said. “It holds no weight for him. I think the only thing he cares about is how his teammates feel about him.”

Most of his teammates refer to him as their brother. He’s garnered many fans among his teammates — past and present — in the league.

Advertisement

“His positive energy in the locker room, his talent being able to play both sides of the floor, put us in a position to be successful,” Antetokounmpo said.

“I wish him the best in his journey with Boston. They got a good one.”

The Celtics brought him in to win the title. Playing to win and sacrificing for the team, is what Holiday has built his career on.

“I think championships are going to be important to him, but I think it’s how has he made other people better and seen their success?” Lee said. “There’s no phony to him. That’s the best part. … He’s just so confident in who he is and it’s hard to find.”

So when he eventually retires and moves to the next phase in his life, he could pursue a coaching job or go to TV. When Holiday speaks, people listen.

Advertisement

For the first time in a long time, he’ll get to choose where his fresh start lies. But Lauren insists there’s still one job that has been waiting for him since they met 15 years ago.

“You want to know what his dream job is? He wants to bag groceries at Vons. I’m not kidding you,” Lauren said. “From the time I met him, he told me that he used to beg his mom to get him a job at Vons to bag groceries. Let me tell you, when we go to the grocery store, Jrue is packing our bags.”

Holiday’s mom knew bagging groceries would get him a little extra money to go out, but managing the tennis team would pay off in the long run. He might finally get his wish. But, as always, it won’t just be for him.

Like with Antetokounmpo and so many others he’s guided over the years, he’ll try to show his kids the way. Then they’ll forge their own path.

“Maybe I’ll take my kids with me,” Holiday said. “They need a little hard living. My kids are really spoiled, so maybe they need to go and serve other people more. I do my best to try to get them to, but you know how kids are. They end up doing their own thing. You never know.”

Advertisement

(Photo illustration: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; photo: Christopher Polk, David L. Nemec / Getty Images)

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sports

Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

Published

on

Paige Bueckers aims to make this her final season at UConn … and to go out with a bang

If there’s an overriding lesson from the last four years of Paige Bueckers’ college basketball career, it’s this, she explains: “You never know what each day will bring. You never know what life is gonna throw at you.”

There was a time when Bueckers didn’t necessary think that way, when she assumed her plans would come to pass. Like when she arrived in Storrs, Conn., in the fall of 2020. She knew then that her freshman season — already outlined with the COVID-19 protocols of testing, masks and isolation — wouldn’t look exactly the way she always imagined as a kid. Still, when she thought about the four seasons in front of her, there was a sense of expectation and progress: Four years of healthy play, a few national titles, a graduation and at the end of it, a seat at the 2024 WNBA Draft.

Very little has gone to plan. Bueckers was, in fact, at the 2024 WNBA Draft, but she was there supporting her teammates Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl being drafted. She described the night as “surreal,” having always imagined that the class she entered with alongside Edwards and Mühl would be the class with which she exited. Instead, she’s now watching them begin their WNBA careers on television as she returns to college offseason workouts, using one of the two available redshirt years.

Bueckers has played only two healthy seasons of college basketball, as a freshman, when she was named national Player of the Year, and last season, when she was again an All-American. She has advanced to three Final Fours in four years but never won a title.

Advertisement

She has readjusted her expectations, imagining her name called in the 2025 WNBA Draft. She plans to make the 2024-25 season her last at UConn, she told The Athletic.

“There’s a much larger sense of urgency,” Bueckers said. “This is my last year to get what I came here for, which is a national championship. … No more ‘Passive Paige.’”

As Bueckers enters her final chapter in Storrs, going through her first (and last) college offseason workouts in which she’s completely healthy, she’s focused on definitively shifting her mentality while recognizing the need for flexibility. After all, that’s the lesson the last four years have taught her.

Bueckers’ final shot at a national title will come with some adjustments. Edwards and Mühl are gone. The three returning upperclassmen — Azzi Fudd, Aubrey Griffin and Caroline Ducharme — are coming off injuries. Kaitlyn Chen, a Princeton transfer, is settling into the program after arriving on campus in late May.

But that turnover in roster — nothing new to Bueckers — makes her mental shift that much more important as she prepares to shoulder so much more.

Advertisement

UConn coach Geno Auriemma can point to March to remind Bueckers of her focus. Conversation around Bueckers’ aggressive mentality have been “constant” since she arrived on campus in 2020, he said. But the Huskies’ recent history, an unexpected run to the Final Four, led by Bueckers, provides all the evidence she needs to continue to be a bit more selfish on the floor. Before the Big East tournament, Auriemma said he told Bueckers, “Paige, you need it to get 30 every night. Just make life easier on everybody else. We don’t have a lot of options. We don’t have a lot of choices. So this is what we got. And we can’t be milling around with this stuff.”

In short: No more Passive Paige.

Through five NCAA Tournament games, Bueckers’ game completely elevated. After averaging 21.3 points, 3.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds a game during the regular season, she averaged 25.8 points, 4.6 assists and 8 rebounds a game, pulling the Huskies to their 23rd Final Four.

“I love to score. I’ve always felt like I’m a pass-first player. I love to get my teammates involved. I love to make sure everybody’s happy,” Bueckers said. “But at the end of the day, everyone is happy when we win, and I think we have a better chance of winning when I’m aggressive.”

Added Auriemma: “She’s too nice, too caring about what other people think. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great, great quality. I just don’t know if it’s a great quality for (a) killer superstar.”

Advertisement

Bueckers has learned too much over the past four seasons to make too many plans. Everything can change in an instant. She knows, because she has been there (multiple times). But with a heightened sense of urgency, she’s approaching this offseason differently. She wants to come in as a better scorer, passer and rebounder. Ask her where her game can improve, and there is no shortage of options that come to Bueckers’ mind: her range, 3-point shooting, off-the-dribble shooting, one-on-one moves, ballhandling, playing off two feet, experimenting with tempo.

She’s trying not to live in the past too much and also not look too far into the future. She hasn’t rewatched the Huskies’ final game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament yet — a loss to Iowa — but she’ll get there. She knows she has to watch it to completely turn the page from last season. Just like the NCAA Tournament, there will be lessons to glean from those 40 minutes, but Bueckers still wonders if she had been just a bit more aggressive, maybe the game would’ve turned out differently. With one final year at UConn, she’ll make sure not to feel that after any game again, she said.

“I want to be an unselfish player, somebody that people love to play with, but at the same time, I’m trying to balance that with also being like, a killer, a scorer, a bucket getter,” she said. “It’s always been a battle of me trying to find the happy medium, but I think for the most part from here on out I gotta be more aggressive first.”

(Photo of Paige Bueckers: Steph Chambers / Getty Images)

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Sports

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

Published

on

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy reveals he recently 'beat' cancer

In the most subtle, low-key fashion, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed he had, and beat, cancer.

The 47-year-old revealed the diagnosis on an episode of “The BFFs Pod” when his co-hosts took note of a scar on his neck.

Portnoy said he “beat it” and replied yes when it was skin cancer “lying in the sun all day with no sunscreen.”

Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy attends an event. (Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Advertisement

“I’ve had a heart attack, cancer and stung by bees, beat it all,” Portnoy joked.

“I went to a doctor, did a skin thing, they scrape it, and one of them came back cancerous; got to take it out,” Portnoy added.

Portnoy said that he had actually been trying to get people to notice the scar. 

“I’ve been trying to shove it in people’s faces,” Portnoy said.

But he did say he kept the operations to himself.

Advertisement
Dave Portnoy

Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy revealed that he recently had cancer and beat it. (The Dave Portnoy Show With Eddie & Co/Youtube)

BARRY BONDS, WILLIE MAYS’ GODSON, POSTS TRIBUTE TO FELLOW GIANTS LEGEND

“I didn’t even tell anyone I was doing it. It was all part of my master plan. God forbid the [Boston] Celtics lost last night, I was going to be like ‘I have cancer. I don’t want to talk about it.’ But they won.”

Portnoy said he and his fellow Barstool hosts were recording a recap of the Celtics’ NBA Finals victory, but no one even mentioned the scar or a bandage on his neck from his celebratory cigar video he posted.

“It’s almost like they know I’m going to call myself a cancer survivor,” Portnoy said. “I was getting close to the point I was going to re-cut this thing open and just start bleeding until somebody would be like, ‘What is going on?’ This is a huge f—ing scar, and nobody’s saying anything.”

Portnoy then said on X, formerly Twitter, that the cancer “wasn’t the serious kind thank god.”

Advertisement
Dave Portnoy

David Portnoy of Barstool Sports (Tom Briglia/ Getty Images)

Portnoy bought back Barstool last year, initially selling the company for about $500 million, and he bought it back for just $1 after the Penn-ESPN deal.

Follow Fox News Digital’s sports coverage on X and subscribe to the Fox News Sports Huddle newsletter.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Sports

Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

Published

on

Shoe is on the other foot as Dodgers lose to Rockies in walk-off fashion

This time, the late-game magic belonged to the Colorado Rockies.

A day after the Dodgers’ historic ninth-inning comeback at Coors Field, their hosts answered back Wednesday with an 7-6 walk-off win.

With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth — and one of the Dodgers’ typically low-leverage relievers, Yohan Ramírez, on the mound in the most crucial of situations — the Rockies flipped the script from Tuesday’s night loss, when they blew a five-run lead in the final frame.

This time, they put two runners aboard immediately with back-to-back singles. They advanced the lead one to third on a ground ball to first base.

Advertisement

Then, in a rare celebratory sequence for a team that has long resided in the National League West basement, outfielder Brenton Doyle delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly.

The Rockies piled out of the dugout. They sprayed Gatorade around the infield.

The exaltation the Dodgers experienced Tuesday, this time was on the other side.

The Dodgers had led for most of the game, despite a rocky start from right-hander Bobby Miller.

Making his first outing in more than two months because of a shoulder injury, Miller battled through a five-run, 6 ⅓-inning appearance. He gave up a three-run homer to Michael Toglia in the bottom of the first, after issuing a single and walk with two out in the inning.

Advertisement

But the 25-year-old bounced back from there, giving up just one run over the next five innings with the help of three double plays.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, surged ahead thanks to production from the bottom of the lineup.

In the second inning, Nos. 6-8 hitters Gavin Lux (single), Cavan Biggio (hit-by-pitch) and Kiké Hernández (walk) loaded the bases for Shohei Ohtani, who promptly unloaded them with a three-run double. Ohtani was driven home on Freddie Freeman’s RBI single in the next at-bat.

With the score tied again, 4-4, in the top of the fifth, it was another bottom-half hitter, outfielder Jason Heyward from the five-hole, who delivered a two-run double off the wall in right field, continuing his recent tear after Tuesday night’s ninth-inning grand slam.

In the top of the seventh, though, Roberts tried to extend Miller — who was only at 73 pitches — only to watch him surrender a leadoff double to Sean Bouchard, who eventually scored what was Miller’s fifth earned run of the game.

Advertisement

After Miller exited, the seventh only got messier for the Dodgers. Third baseman Biggio booted a grounder with one out. No. 9 hitter Adael Amador belted a double off reliever Daniel Hudson. And Brenton Doyle tied the score at 6-6 on a one-out sacrifice fly — what could have been the third out of the inning had Biggio not made an error.

Continue Reading

Trending