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Star athlete couple faces biggest opponent yet as wife battles brain tumor

Lauren and Jrue Holiday

Lauren and Jrue Holiday

As a two-time gold medalist and World Cup champion, Lauren Holiday dominated on the soccer field. Her husband, Jrue Holiday, a star point guard with the New Orleans Pelicans, shines on the basketball court.

Lauren retired from professional soccer last summer at the height of her career, in part to start a family with her husband. Now, the couple is facing their biggest challenge yet as Lauren battles a brain tumor, discovered just months before she’s set to give birth to their first child, reports CBS News correspondent DeMarco Morgan.

In an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jrue called the diagnosis “devastating.”

“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 okay with Lauren and the child,” he said in the interview.

On Sunday, the Pelicans announced Jrue is taking an indefinite leave of absence to care for his family. In a statement, head coach Alvin Gentry said: “The most important thing for Jrue to do right now is be with his wife and family.”

Lauren’s former teammates with the FC Kansas City are also rooting for the couple.

“If anyone can get through something like this, it would be someone like Lauren. Because she is so strong, and she has such strong faith,” former teammate Becky Sauerbrunn said.

Lauren and Jrue first met as students at UCLA where they returned last year to host a charity youth clinic.

“Jrue and I both, our passion is giving back and just being involved in the communities we came from,” Lauren said September 2015.

Three years ago, the couple exchanged vows.

“Starting a family with her is going to be the best thing that I’ve ever had in my life,” Jrue said in their wedding video.

Now, they’re vowing to overcome this battle together.

“Lauren has her good days and her bad days; some are better than others. … She’s obviously a fighter, the toughest woman I know. That’s the reason why I married her,” Jrue told the newspaper.

Jrue said the right side of Lauren’s face feels numb because the tumor is pressing on a nerve. He said their baby is healthy, and if possible, they hope to induce the birth early, perhaps later this month to treat Lauren as quickly as possible.