LOS ANGELES – UCLA Head Women’s Basketball Coach Cori Close announced today that redshirt freshman Lauren Holiday has decided to medically retire from the sport of women’s basketball, ending her playing career at UCLA.
Holiday, a guard out of Calabasas, Calif., will remain with the team as an undergraduate assistant and continue her work towards a degree in sociology.
“I am very thankful for the contributions of Lauren Holiday on the court,” Close said. “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. She is a woman of faith, a dancer, a performer, a caretaker of people and has tremendous artistic abilities. Even though her impact won’t be seen by our fans on the court, her impact will still be felt by our team.”
Holiday began her career at UCLA in 2012-13, playing in just three games while making one start before a head injury forced her to the sidelines where she would remain the rest of the season. Granted a medical hardship, she entered the 2013-14 campaign as a redshirt freshman and missed the first two games of the year due to another head injury. She made a triumphant return to the lineup in the third game of the season, a home loss to No. 12 North Carolina (Nov. 17), as Holiday recorded her first double-double of her career with 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Tar Heels.
She earned a starting spot in the Bruins’ next game, a home win over No. 10 Oklahoma (Nov. 24). She had eight points, five rebounds, three steals and an assist against the Sooners, but left that contest late in the second half with a broken nose. Despite the injury, she remained in the starting lineup for the next four games (Nov. 29-Dec. 7). But she sustained another head injury late in the game at No. 4 Notre Dame (Dec. 7) after trying to take a charge. She missed the next two games (a win at San Diego State on Dec. 15 and a win at Minnesota on Dec. 20), and returned to the lineup in a loss to Auburn in a tournament at Minnesota on Dec. 21.
She played the next two contests, a home win over Cal Poly (Dec. 28) and the Pac-12 opener at home against USC (Dec. 30). Just before the half against the Trojans, she sustained another head injury as she lost her balance after being screened and received an accidental knee to the head while falling to the floor as time expired. She never returned to the lineup again.
“After meeting with the UCLA team doctors as well as my personal physicians, this is the best decision for me,” Holiday said. “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. It will be extremely difficult not being able to practice, play in games, or doing other athletic things. But still being able to be part of the Bruins’ women’s basketball family is what is going to help me make it through this challenging time.”
She concludes her Bruin career having played in 12 games while making six starts, averaging 3.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. Her double-double against UNC stands as both of her career-highs in points (10) and rebounds (11).
“I’m very thankful for everyone at UCLA, from the team, the staff, the donors and the fans,” Holiday added. “Their support has meant the world to me and it is something that keeps me going.”
Her older brother, Jrue Holiday, played for the Bruins for one season (2008-09) and just finished his fifth season in the NBA and his first with the New Orleans Pelicans after playing his first four with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“She will still have an opportunity to be a contributing member of this program, even though her role will be different,” Close added. “We want to honor the person that Lauren Holiday is. She is a great Bruin and has been great to our community. She is a loyal and passionate teammate and her teammates really trust her. This is a closing of one chapter but an opening of many others as her impact will still be felt in this program.”