There’s an unwritten rule in professional journalism: don’t cheer for the team you’re reporting on. And you don’t publicly cheer for your favorite people.
let’s be honest Every journalist has a favorite or a group of favorites. Whether it’s someone who’s secured at a pro level or someone from the early days of youth sports.
Tiffany Jackson was one of my favorites. And losing her – at just 37 years old – hurts.
Multiple reports announced Jackson’s death Monday night as she died of cancer. the athlete was planning an article about her ahead of the college basketball season as she prepared to begin her career as a head coach at NAIA Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a feature would have been perfect timing for someone who had beaten breast cancer before, stage 3 cancer in 2015.
I don’t write as much as an editor now, but this was an easy task for me that I couldn’t pass up. There is so much to say about Jackson. I’ve known her since I was a young reporter, and she was a 14-year-old freshman who kicked ass and took names at Lincoln High School in Dallas. I’ve watched her go from “talented” to “outstanding” and then “outstanding” to “amazing” in the eyes of basketball fans as she got older and better.
She dominated the high school scene. Put the ball in her hands on offense and stay out of her way. Watch her on defense and she wreaked havoc on the opposition. When not using her wingspan to disrupt passage inside, she blocked shots. Frustrating when you’ve played against them. A routine chess game if you were her teammate.
And when she was done playing, there was always that smile, so present. When she wasn’t dancing somewhere, she was joking. She knew she was good on the pitch, but her humility always trumped her overconfidence. Just having great qualities.
The 2007 WNBA Draft was one that many in the Dallas area were looking forward to. Jackson was selected fifth for Hall of Fame coach Jody Conradt in Texas by the New York Liberty after a distinguished career. Jackson is one of only three Longhorns to be named a three-time women’s college basketball All-American. Jackson still ranks fifth at the school in career scoring (1,917), fourth in rebounding (1,039), third in steals (313), and seventh in blocks (181).
Gone but never forgotten.
RIP Tiffany Jackson. 🧡 pic.twitter.com/JJTfMdItLf
– Texas Women’s Basketball (@TexasWBB) October 4, 2022
I remember her as a freshman in Texas. She led the team in rebounding. It didn’t start, but it’s definitely done. It was a problem for opponents – and the perfect weapon for the Longhorns.
“I know Tiffany would love to be out there, in the interview spotlight, and maybe someday we’ll set her up to reward her for all her hard work,” Conradt said in a 2004 interview. “But who else do we have that can step into a game and change the swing like Tiffany?”
Conradt described Jackson as “enormously mobile”. Few 6-foot-3 forwards back then defended guards like they did. And when it came to her offensive engine and effectiveness, let’s just say her numerous post moves and perimeter jumps fought for top honors nightly.
It was clear early on that she was going to be right in college basketball when she was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2004. And when she finished her college career, Jackson was the only player in program history to score 1,000 points on 1,000 boards, earn 300 steals and log 150 blocks. Jackson played in the WNBA for nine years, but she won several pro championships playing abroad in Israel. She played for Maccabi Ashdod in Israel’s Winners League and was a four-time Israel Cup Final MVP.
As a young reporter covering high school sports in the Dallas area, I remembered getting a call from then-Lincoln coach Michael Ensley, who coached the Tigers to five straight tournaments from 2001-2005 and then won the championship in 2008 In the fall of 2000, Ensley gave me a brief, direct message regarding Jackson preparing for her sophomore year of high school.
“Tiffany Jackson, man,” he said hoarsely. “Listen… she’s so real.”
He didn’t lie. Jackson led Lincoln to two consecutive appearances in the Class 4A championship games as a sophomore and as a junior. As a senior, she transferred to Duncanville High School and won a Class 5A state title.
I was lucky enough to mark some of the best players in the Dallas area. ChrisBosch. LaMarcus Aldridge. Deron Williams. Odyssey Sims. Alexis Jones. Erin Grant. All professional basketball players past or present. Covering Jackson was just as fun, just as special. Watching their play was poetic.
However, getting to know her off the court was the added bonus I didn’t know I needed. She had a degree in Applied Learning and Development but had a deep appreciation for broadcast journalism – which made interviewing easy for her. She loved helping young ball players and worked with the DFW Elite Girls Basketball Club for years. (Her father, Marques, was the principal until his death in 2012.) She’s even run basketball classes throughout East Texas, since she was born in Longview, Texas, and has never forgotten her roots.
Jackson was seen at Dallas Wings games all the time, and she was always so approachable. She was a champion of breast cancer awareness. She was the mother of a little boy who will be 10 years old in December. She was a coach whose smile shone during a press conference in April when she was unveiled as Wiley College’s new women’s basketball general.
It seems unfair to lose someone like her at such a young age.
She was someone easy to cheer for. Public and private.
(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
https://theathletic.com/3656503/2022/10/04/tiffany-jackson-death-tribute/?source=rss I remember Tiffany Jackson, a player who is easy to cheer on and off the field