The global basketball superstar who fell in love with the Far South Coast

Lauren Jackson (third from left) with her parents Maree and Gary, and her brother Ross. Photo: Supplied.
Lauren Jackson (third from left) with her parents Maree and Gary, and her brother Ross. Photo: Supplied.

Lauren Jackson is a global basketball superstar who has played at the highest levels of women’s basketball, including the top leagues in the United States of America, Russia, and Australia. She also loves the Far South Coast.

Jackson recently released her autobiography My Story, in which she details her journey from being a young basketball player in Albury to a global superstar.

She said it was important for people to know how tough being a professional athlete can be, especially for women.

“People know a lot about men’s sport and the challenges they face at the top level,” she said. “For me, this book was about showing the other side, the women’s side of sport, because there’s this whole debate about women in sport and their representation at the moment.

“I wanted to show people what it was like to be a professional female athlete without the support that the men get.”

Jackson said the gap between male and female athletes is slowly closing, but it’s going to a hard slog.

I wanted to show people what it was like to be a professional female athlete without the support that the men get.

Lauren Jackson

“That bridge is going to take a lot of time,” she said. “At the moment, it’s more about giving women the opportunities to compete at that level, regardless of what sport it is.

“Women need the resources to be able to get their bodies right, and the time to rehab injuries. It’s a bit of a catch-22, because you have to play year-around to sustain your career as an athlete, but your body tends to break down.”

Jackson has spent a lot of time on the South Coast, as her parents lived in Tuross Head for almost 17 years.

Unfortunately, their time in Tuross Head came to an abrupt halt when they were involved in a serious car accident north of Moruya.

“My parents did live over there for many years, but last year in June they had a really bad car accident on the Princes Highway, and my mother was almost killed,” Jackson said.

“A young bloke was driving into town at dusk, and a kangaroo either got stuck under his car, or he hit it and swerved. He came head on into my mum and dad as they were speeding up to go into the 100 zone.

“The car hit mum and dad, then flew up and the bullbar landed on top of my mum’s side of the car, and basically crushed her.

The South Coast is the most magical place in the world, and there is no better place for me in terms of coming back home.

Lauren Jackson

“I couldn’t be there to help with her rehab all the time. They’ve had to move back to Albury-Wodonga, but they were there for 17 years, and they loved it.”

Jackson also loves the Far South Coast, and plans on spending future holidays in Tuross Head.

“The South Coast is the most magical place in the world, and there is no better place for me in terms of coming back home,” Jackson said. “People always ask me where I vacation, and I say ‘I go to Tuross Head’.

“I love Tuross, I’m going back there in February on holidays. I’ve got beautiful memories there outside of the accident. The people, the lifestyle, it’s just perfect.”

In the book, Jackson relays the story of being approached by a mother and her children in a shopping centre.

Jackson was on crutches recovering from a knee injury at the time, and had just found out she was pregnant. The woman who approached her was apparently not happy with the interaction, as Jackson’s mother overheard her complaining about it in the dressing rooms.

“It’s quite common for people to approach me, but the way that particular moment happened was really confronting,” Jackson said. “At the time, I just thought ‘Oh my god, you’re in my space, this is crazy, how can you speak to me like this?’

“People are usually so respectful and lovely, and I love that, I think it’s beautiful. That was just one of those moments for me though.

It’s a battle, it’s a slog, but that’s life, and it’s given me the skills to deal with life after basketball.

Lauren Jackson

“I was getting over a knee replacement, I was still in pain, and all I wanted to do was shop, get in a bit of retail therapy.”

Jackson said it was important for people to realise that athletes are just regular people who have the same concerns and issues as everyone else.

“Sometimes we have bad days too, and that was a really bad day for me,” she said. “I think athletes are starting to get more vocal about their issues with mental-health problems, and regular everyday issues that every person has to go through.

“We’re no different to the very next person, we’ve just chose a different path. I think it’s important for people to hear my story, and see that it wasn’t all glamorous, it wasn’t all lovely, and it was really hard at times.

“It’s a battle, it’s a slog, but that’s life, and it’s given me the skills to deal with life after basketball.”

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