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Guard Lauren Holiday to medically retire after repeated injuries

By Aubrey Yeo

July 15, 2014 4:45 pm

UCLA women’s basketball announced on Tuesday that redshirt freshman guard Lauren Holiday would be medically retiring from basketball as a result of the effects of multiple injuries sustained during her time at UCLA. Holiday will instead be returning to the team as an undergraduate assistant.

“I am very thankful for the contributions of Lauren Holiday on the court,” said coach Cori Close in a press release issued by UCLA Athletics. “She is a spectacular athlete and would have been a really great basketball player here at UCLA. But the wonderful thing I love about Lauren is that she is not only a basketball player. … Even though her impact won’t be seen by our fans on the court, her impact will still be felt by our team.”

Holiday, the younger sister of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday, played a total of 12 games during her two seasons at UCLA. Her rookie season came to an abrupt end after she sustained a season-ending head injury after colliding head-first with an opposing player in her third game as a Bruin.

She was granted medical hardship by the NCAA and was allowed to play her second season at UCLA as a redshirt freshman. Holiday’s return to the court was delayed after another head injury sidelined the guard for the first two games of the 2013-2014 season.

After that minor setback, things seemed to pick up for the guard in her second year at UCLA; Holiday made a return to the active roster in Pauley Pavilion playing against North Carolina. Although UCLA lost that matchup, Holiday notched her career-first double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Her return to basketball, however, took a turn for the worse in her ninth and final game of the season when UCLA took on USC. Shortly before halftime, Holiday lost her balance after getting screened, and on the way to the ground she received an inadvertent blow to the head from a knee of a Trojan player that would later turn out to be a career-ending injury.

“After meeting with the UCLA team doctors as well as my personal physicians, this is the best decision for me,” Holiday said in the press release. “Not being able to play basketball is going to be tremendously hard because I have spent most of my life playing basketball and being a student-athlete.”

Because of her time as a Bruin athlete, Holiday will be eligible to continue to be involved with the team as an undergraduate assistant. Holiday will be joined in her new role by Rhema Gardner, who also made the transition to this role as a result of medical retirement.

“(Holiday) will still have an opportunity to be a contributing member of this program, even though her role will be different,” Close said. “This is a closing of one chapter but an opening of many others as her impact will still be felt in this program.”

Compiled by Aubrey Yeo, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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