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Vol. 58, No. 3 • February 2020 • .pdf version
Most Courageous Cox sisters battle Type 1 diabetes
By MEL GREENBERG
During a discussion a year ago with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, whose Bears would go on to win the NCAA title, future candidates were mentioned to consider for the annual Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award that is presented each year at the USBWA women's awards press conference at the Women's Final Four.
The honor is named for the legendary Hall of Fame Tennessee women's coach, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's Type in the summer of 2011, strode the sidelines one more season before stepping down and ultimately succumbed to the effects in June 2016.
Mulkey was on board with the choices, but soon after it was learned one of her own stars – 6-foot-4 post player Lauren Cox – was dealing with Type 1 Diabetes since the age of 7.
"Lauren is absolutely the ideal person to win that award," Mulkey said.
In fact, Baylor has played a preseason Type 1 diabetes game since Cox's freshman season in support of her.
The native of Flower Mound, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, wears a pump during games to manage her blood sugar.
In the rare instances it was necessary, Mulkey has rested Lauren to protect her health.
Her family consists of three other sisters – Whitney, Maddie and Kaylee – and her dad, Dennis, and mom, Brenda, both of whom were former basketball players.
Type 1 Diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas is unable to provide enough insulin. A lifelong illness, blood sugar must be monitored throughout the day.
Cox, a senior likely to be a lottery pick in the WNBA draft April 17, became our choice.
But her story did not stop there.
It became more widely learned last fall that Cox's younger sister Whitney also was diagnosed with the disease near the end of the 2018 season, while she was still in high school.
While Lauren has taken her own situation in stride – "I control it – it doesn't control me," she said in a USA Today interview – she was there to surprise Whitney the day of the diagnosis, knowing the trauma her sister was about to undergo.
"We just sat there and cried together. Just kind of got it all out," Lauren told USBWA member and ESPNW reporter Mechelle Voeple in an interview. "I was really emotional because I knew what I had been dealing with for many years, and I knew that she was going to have to deal with it now.
"And it's for the rest of our lives unless they can find a cure. The good thing is it is manageable if you're responsible with it."
Whitney, who was 17 when diagnosed, is now a freshman reserve playing at Lubbock Christian, which won Division II titles in 2016 and last season.
Lauren and Whitney were on opposite sides last fall in Baylor's annual Type 1 Diabetes game played in Waco, Texas.
Thus, why not honor both sisters? This is the second time on the women's side that dual awards have been handed out.
Previously, in 2017, hardware went to Appalachian State coach Angel Elderkin and ESPN broadcaster Holly Rowe, who battled cancer while continuing their careers.
In fact, Lauren has appeared at various events attended by diabetes patients to offer support and telling her story.
She has had to deal with other impediments as well.
Just as Baylor was about to clinch the title against defending champion Notre Dame last April, Lauren went down, seemingly with a major knee injury. But a few days later it was diagnosed as a bone bruise and she became good to go when the season began last fall.
Lauren did miss a few games on the front end because of another unrelated issue.
A third-team USBWA All-American last season, Lauren plays with a Baylor squad capable of repeating its 2019 championship.
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