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Weeks after giving birth, soccer star undergoes surgery to remove brain tumor

Former U.S. women’s soccer player Lauren Holiday is recovering after undergoing a successful surgery to remove a benign brain tumor Thursday at Duke University Hospital.

The 28-year-old is married to New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. She was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor called meningioma during her pregnancy with their first daughter.

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In late September, the couple welcomed baby Jrue Tyler. The baby’s original due date was mid-October, but doctors decided to induce labor early to expedite brain surgery, ESPN reports.

Jrue Holiday is currently away from the Pelicans indefinitely as he helps his wife through the recovery. His teammates and coach have been supportive of his decision to take some much-needed family time.

Doctors are confident that Lauren Holiday will make a full recovery, ABC News reports.

Happy Birthday to my best friend, my adventurer and my partner in life. So thankful for the day you were born. I love you. A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:22am PDT

National anthem singer takes knee before Miami Heat game

The Miami Heat were caught by surprise Friday when the national anthem singer took a knee at midcourt at AmericanAirlines Arena before their preseason NBA game with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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The performer, listed by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence, also opened her blue blazer to reveal a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter,” before she knelt to sing the anthem.

The Heat issued a statement near the end of the Sixers’ 113-110 victory that read: “We were unaware of it ahead of time.”

Heat players and coaches stood on the court with arms links and most with their heads bowed, as they have done most of the preseason, while Lawrence sang. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he noticed Lawrence on one knee toward the end of anthem.

“I just noticed when she was finishing up,” Spoelstra said. “We felt as a basketball team we would do something united so that was our focus. Throughout all of this I think the most important thing that has come out is very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We’ve had dialogue within our walls here. And hopefully this will lead to action.”

Fans did not react one way or the other toward Lawrence.

“I saw her kneel and I understand where she’s coming from,” Heat forward Justise Winslow said. “I understand her opinion on it, but as a team we tried to show unity and respect for the flag. We also know there are social changes that need to happen in our community, but as a team we felt (we wanted) to pay respect to the flag while also showing unity and raising awareness for the issue at the same time.”

Said guard Wayne Ellington: “If she feels that the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her.”

Lawrence is the second anthem singer during the NBA preseason to kneel joining Leah Tysse, who got down on one knee as she finished singing at a Sacramento Kings game.

Several NBA teams have taken a stance during the playing of the national anthem by players and coaches locking arms.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue Friday following the league’s board of governors meeting.

“All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” Silver said. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”

The NBA and the union have had talks about the issue.

“We have had very constructive discussions about meaningful action that we can take collectively in our communities to help build trust between police officers and members of the community looking for constructive ways to address racial injustice, economic injustice,” Silver said. “I am very proud of the relationship we have built with the union, with the players on these issues. My expectation is that we’ll see into the regular season more of what we have seen in the preseason, which is a sense of, let’s deal directly with these important issues.”

The issue has become a hot button topic since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game as a protest against some of the country’s social and racial injustices. Other NFL players have followed by taking a knee or raising their fist.

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LeBron James endorses Hillary Clinton

NBA star LeBron James is endorsing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, calling her "a champion for children and their futures" in an op-ed for his hometown newspaper.

In the piece provided to Business Insider ahead of its publication in Monday's Akron Beacon Journal, James said Clinton's policies align with his work through the LeBron James Family Foundation to help children in northeast Ohio stay in school. 

"When I look at this year’s presidential race, it’s clear which candidate believes the same thing," he wrote. "Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear.

"That candidate is Hillary Clinton."

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The Cleveland Cavaliers star pointed to Clinton's efforts to "improve public schools, expand access to health care, support children's hospitals and so much more."

"She wants to make sure kids have access to a good education, no matter what ZIP code they live in," James wrote of Clinton, who is campaigning in Ohio on Monday. "She’ll rebuild schools that are falling apart and put more money into computer science. She’ll make sure teachers are paid what they deserve so they can give everything to their students."

He added, "She also has plans to make college a reality for more people in America, especially for those who can’t afford it. My kids in Akron are proof of the hope and motivation that come from knowing college can be in their future, no matter what obstacles they might be facing."

>> So does Trump's tax maneuvering make him a genius or irresponsible?

James also praised Clinton's "message of hope and unity" as a starting point for ending violence in African-American communities.

"I don’t know everything it will take finally to end the violence," he wrote. "But I do know we need a president who brings us together and keeps us unified. Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution. We must all stand together — no matter where we are from or the color of our skin."

Read the full op-ed here.

Knicks’ Joakim Noah skips dinner at West Point, says he is against war

Explaining that he was not “anti-troops,” New York Knicks center Joakim Noah said he skipped a team dinner Thursday night at the U.S. Military Academy that featured cadets and a speech by a former colonel because he is against war. His decision was criticized by a West Point spokesman, who called the action “inappropriate.” 

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The Knicks are holding training camp at the academy this week, and Noah told ESPN he had "mixed feelings" about spending time there because he is opposed to young troops fighting in wars.

"It's hard for me a little bit. I have a lot of respect for the kids who are out here fighting. But it's hard for me to understand why we have to go to war, why kids have to kill kids around the world," Noah said after Friday's practice. "So I have mixed feelings about being here. I'm very proud of this country. I love America, but I just don't understand kids killing kids around the world.

<script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Joakim Noah: “Stay together, stay focused, stay hungry, and build good habits.” #KnicksCampPosted by New York Knicks on Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"At the end of the day, I'm not anti-troops. It's just not comfortable for me to see kids going out to war and coming back having seen what they've seen, having done what they've done. It's sad for me.”

Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, West Point public affairs officer, said Noah's decision was disappointing.

"The U.S. Military Academy at West Point develops leaders of character for the defense of our nation," Kasker said. "We are disappointed and feel Mr. Noah's choice of West Point to make a statement is inappropriate because of the great sacrifice that has originated from this institution over our nation's history."

On Twitter, the Knicks tweeted photos late Friday of Noah spending time with the cadets.

Conversation pic.twitter.com/dhc61pDaIE— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) October 1, 2016<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

By skipping the dinner, Noah said he wasn’t making a statement.

He said he supports athletes using their platforms to call attention to different social issues, as some have done in recent months. His foundation, Noah’s Arc, is committed to reducing violence in Chicago and other cities.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett announce retirement

Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce announced on The Players Tribune that this season will be his last as a player in the NBA. 

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"It's time to move on from the game of basketball," he wrote. "Just like any difficult decision, I think you've got to be at peace with yourself. I'm at peace with retiring, but I've got one more ride left. One more season. One more opportunity."

Pierce, 38, was originally selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 1998 draft, with the 10th overall pick. He played 15 seasons in Boston, winning a championship in 2008 and returning to the NBA Finals in 2010.

He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett in 2013 and spent one season in Brooklyn, before playing with the Wizards in 2015 and the Clippers in 2016. 

"After 18 NBA years, it's hard to believe I'll be playing in each arena for the last time," Pierce wrote. "So I'm going to enjoy every practice, every bus ride, every team dinner, every time running out through the tunnel. I'm going to do my part to give us a shot at the ultimate goal."

Pierce was named MVP of the NBA Finals in 2008,  when the Celtics beat the Lakers for the championship. He teamed with Garnett and Ray Allen to form "The Big Three" that led Boston to the title. 

He is a 10-time NBA All-Star. 

Pierce's announcement came three days after Garnett posted a video on Instagram, saying, "farewell" and "thank you" after 21 seasons in the NBA.

The Associated Press reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves plan to waive Garnett so he can collect all of his $8 million salary for next season.

"I'm just thankful, man. I can't ever put that into words. I'm just thankful," Garnett said in the video. "I'm just thankful for everybody, and the love, I never would've thought that people would love me like this, but for it to be reality is just something else. Man. We gonna be (all right), man. I don't expect this to be easy, but so far, so good. Stay tuned." 

To be continued... A video posted by Kevin Garnett (@tic_pix) on Sep 23, 2016 at 2:42pm PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan are among other notable athletes who retired this year.

Ohio sites potentially in the running to host NCAA championship after pull from North Carolina

Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, could contend for NCAA championship events that were pulled from North Carolina this week because of the cumulative actions taken by the state concerning civil rights protections.

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Officials from the University of Dayton and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission told the Dayton Daily News they have interest in hosting the events, which include first- and second-round men's basketball tournament games in March as well as the Women's College Cup soccer tournament in December.

"We have let them know we are available and would be happy to help them out," University of Dayton athletics spokesman Doug Hauschild said in an email. "We believe their intention is to relocate to sites as close as they can to the original ones for fans who have already purchased tickets."

The University of Dayton Arena is already set to host the First Four to open the basketball tournament, as it has done every year since 2001.

Ohio State and the city of Columbus have also become frequent hosts of various NCAA events and could add to their impressive docket in the coming years.

"We have viewed the information provided by the NCAA today regarding the process by which replacement sites will be selected for 2016-17 championships and are determining, with our partners, if we have the availability to host any of these championships," Greater Columbus Sports Commission director of marketing and communications Bruce Wimbish said in an email. "There will be a two-week time frame to submit new bids with the decisions to be made in early October."

Ohio State is already set to host multiple NCAA events this academic year, including the Division I women's volleyball championship in December and the men's volleyball championship in March.

The women's basketball Final Four will be hosted in Columbus in the spring of 2018.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced that he sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert about Ohio's potential to host the orphaned events.

"Ohio has been a consistent partner in hosting NCAA sporting events," Brown wrote. "As you weigh options for relocation, I urge you to give Ohio's cities your full consideration. Your organization would be hard-pressed to find a better partner, and I know Ohioans would embrace these events with open arms."

NBA's Jrue Holiday to miss games to care for pregnant wife with brain tumor

New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday will miss an indefinite amount of the basketball season while he cares for his wife, who will have brain surgery later this year to remove a benign tumor, The Times-Picayune reported. 

 >> Read more trending stories 

Doctors discovered the tumor near Lauren Holiday's orbital socket on the right side of her brain. According to The Times, she had been experiencing painful headaches, which forced her to undergo an MRI in June, when doctors discovered the tumor. Jrue Holiday said the news was "devastating."

"My family comes before basketball," Jrue Holiday told The Times. "I'm obviously blessed to play this game and be in the position I am in, but my wife is the most important thing in the world to me. She comes before anything else."

Because I miss him...#tbt A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Feb 26, 2015 at 4:23pm PST

Doctors told the family that the tumor is operable but that they do not want to operate until after Lauren has given birth to the couple's unborn daughter. 

"Obviously, we were and are still very excited about the birth of our first child, but our focus shifted from having this magnificent blessing to making sure everything is going to be OK with Lauren and the child," Jrue said. "Our priorities right now are being able to manage Lauren's symptoms and still have a fairly healthy pregnancy." 

Best 3 years of my life. I love you. A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jul 7, 2016 at 11:34am PDT

The couple's daughter was originally due in mid-October, but the couple hopes to induce birth early.

Lauren's the tumor won't be operated on until six weeks after her delivery.

The diagnosis is no threat to the couple's child, and doctors said that Lauren is expected to make a full recovery once she's undergone surgery, Deadspin reported.

"Lauren has her good days and her bad days; some are better than others," The Times quoted Jrue as saying. "She's obviously a fighter, the toughest woman I know. That's the reason why I married her."

Lauren Holiday, 28, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. women's national soccer team. She retired last year at the peak of her career after winning the World Cup to start a family with Jrue.

2x Olympic Gold 2x NWSL Champs 2015 WorldCup Champs!!! The Greatest Women's Soccer player just happens to be my wife. She has served her country, her family and most of all, she has served the Lord to the fullest. Congrats on an AMAZING career!!! A photo posted by Jrue Holiday (@jrue_holiday11) on Oct 25, 2015 at 10:22am PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>  

Jrue and Lauren met while in college at UCLA, where the two competed on athletic teams. Jrue was a star player on the basketball team, and Lauren shined on the soccer team.

Holiday, 26, was drafted in the first round in 2009 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded to the Pelicans in 2013.

The couple married in July 2013, the same month Jrue was traded to the Pelicans.

Happy Anniversary to the best man I know. One year went so fast! "My beloved is mine and I am his" - Songs 2:16 #7.7.13 A photo posted by @laurenholiday12 on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:34am PDT

"The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is be with his wife and family," Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said in a statement. "Every one of our coaches and players understands what Lauren and Jrue are going through, and they know we're behind them 100 percent. We'll continue to do everything we can to support them and help them get through these hard times."

"We encourage Jrue to take as much time as he needs to be with his wife and family before returning to the Pelicans," Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said in a statement. "We understand that Jrue will miss some games, and his teammates are prepared to step up in his absence. We will welcome Jrue back with open arms when he is ready to return to the team."

"The Pelicans have been great," Jrue said." There wasn't any pressure to be with the team or to choose between my team and my wife. They told me to be a husband first. I don't think they know how much their support means to me and my family."

The Pelicans training camp begins Sept. 24, and the season opener is Oct. 26.

Jrue asked fans for prayers saying, "Really pray for my family. We can take all the prayers that we can get."

Notable athletes were among those that reached out to the family with positive messages. 

Read more at The Times-Picayune.

NBA offers 2017 All-Star Game to Louisiana

The 2017 NBA All-Star Game will be played in New Orleans, bringing some much-needed good news to the state of Louisiana.

In July, the league announced it was removing the game from Charlotte because of North Carolina's HB2. The bill, which was signed into law, requires transgender people to use public bathrooms corresponding to their sex at birth.

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Opponents saw the bill as discriminatory, and the NBA agreed. Its statement said, in part, "We do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2."

New Orleans was considered the leading contender to host the game after the NBA pulled the plug on Charlotte. The league decided to stick with the Big Easy despite flooding that's causing massive damage in Louisiana.

More than a dozen people have been killed, and tens of thousands of homes have been damaged. 

To help the flooding victims, the NBA is partnering with the New Orleans Pelicans and New Orleans Saints to help rebuild damaged homes and collect food and water for affected residents. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards said, "I want to thank the NBA for the vote of confidence in our state to host this event and their support of the relief efforts currently underway."

The All-Star Game itself should be a big boost for the state's economy. The game and its surrounding festivities are expected to bring in around $100 million. The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for February 19.

Michael Jordan fan who went viral for dressing as NBA legend gets surprise from his hero

A man who went viral this summer for dressing as Michael Jordan during a pickup basketball game in Idaho has received a special surprise from the NBA legend.

According to KREM, 33-year-old Jeffrey Harrison, a Washington state man with autism, has been wearing Jordan's full uniform when he plays basketball since 2010. On July 4, a video and photos of Harrison playing in Coeur D'Alene circulated on social media, making headlines and inspiring memes.

>> Click here to watch the original news report from KREM

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When Jordan heard about Harrison from his manager, he decided to do something special for his No. 1 fan. Last week, Harrison received gear – including shoes – and a letter from the star that said, "Continue to believe in yourself, play hard and always remember to enjoy the game."

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Jordan also called Harrison.

"It kind of brought me to tears after I got off the phone so I figured this is really going to be nice," Harrison told KREM. "The fact that Michael Jordan took the time to call and put all this together. I love it – even the cologne, even the sweats. I love it."

Read more here.

>> Watch the full news report here

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