Tiffany Jackson, former WNBA player and all-American at Texas, dies at 37

Tiffany Jackson, former WNBA player and all-American at Texas, dies at 37

Tiffany Jackson, an all-American basketball player at Texas and the fifth pick in the 2007 WNBA draft, died Monday at the age of 37 from breast cancer, the school announced.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Tiffany Jackson, one of the greatest players in the history of Texas women’s basketball,” Longhorns Coach Vic Schaefer said of Jackson, who was the head coach at Wiley College, an NAIA school in Marshall, Tex. “From her days as a player for DFW Elite to her days as a player at the University of Texas, Tiffany has meant so much to so many people in this great state of Texas.”

Jackson was also an all-American in high school at Duncanville (Tex.) High, whose coach tweeted Monday night that she “was an amazing mother, daughter, friend, teammate and role model for so many.”

A three-time all-American playing for the Longhorns from 2003 to 2007, Jackson was a member of the 30-5 Texas team that advanced to the 2004 NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 and was named ESPN’s national freshman of the year. She is the only player in Texas women’s basketball history with at least 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 steals and 150 blocks.

“Tiffany had a great career and was an impact player,” said Jody Conradt, the former Texas women’s basketball coach who retired after Jackson’s senior season. “She was recognized for her all-around game and the fact that she was tremendously mobile and could play multiple positions. She was beloved by teammates, and we share in the sadness of her passing.”

Jackson, a 6-foot-3 forward, was drafted by the New York Liberty and spent three seasons with the team before she was traded to the Tulsa Shock in 2010. Her best professional season, when she averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds, came in 2011 with the Shock.

Jackson was found to have breast cancer in 2015, and with her cancer in remission she played one more season in the WNBA with Los Angeles in 2017. She retired at 32 and served as an assistant coach for two years at Texas.

Jackson had been playing in Israel during the WNBA’s offseason when she found a small lump in early 2015. She saw a doctor when she returned home to Dallas but did not have a mammogram, she later told ESPN, because the WNBA season was about to begin . She became concerned when she noticed it changing. Married at the time, Jackson was the mother of a young son and had 16 chemotherapy treatments.

“My little boy is 3, and he doesn’t really understand what’s going on,” she told ESPN in 2016. “He just knows that on some days he stays with Granny, and then he’ll ask about what kind of Band- Aid I got from the doctor. They give me different ones with Spider-Man or Scooby-Doo on them, and my son loves that. My husband works in East Texas, so he has a long commute. There is a lot to manage.”

Jackson used her Stage 3 diagnosis to try to increase awareness about the disease.

“You hear ‘breast cancer’ and you think you understand it,” she told ESPN. “But you don’t really understand it until it hits closer to you. Or it hits home.

“It was something that wasn’t even in my mind, really. So I feel like just knowing there is a possibility will help people. I wish I would have known more. I have been talking at schools and colleges about it. Especially with the African American community. Because we aren’t getting early checkups as much. So we’re being diagnosed when it’s Stage 3 or Stage 4, and we’re dying at higher rates. So I’ve been preaching, preaching, preaching that.”

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