Jackson told the “Four Corners” current-affairs show one of her knees “turned to mush” by the end of her playing career and she needed pills to sleep and painkillers to stay on the court.
SYDNEY, Australia – Former Seattle Storm superstar Lauren Jackson has spoken of her “nightmare” as she weaned herself off painkillers and sleeping pills when injury forced her retirement from basketball last year.
The 35-year-old played for the Storm from 2001 to 2012 and was voted the WNBA’s most valuable player in 2003, 2007 and 2010. Jackson, who led Australia to four Olympic medals, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she resorted to using medication to meet the demands of her professional career.
Jackson told the “Four Corners” current-affairs show on Monday one of her knees “turned to mush” by the end of the career and she needed pills to sleep and painkillers to stay on the court.
“Because of the injuries that I had, there are high stakes,” Jackson said. “You’re getting paid a lot of money to perform and when you’re a franchise player or someone that is expected to perform day in, day out you do what you have to do to get by.
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“For me, that was painkillers and sleeping pills, generally.”
Jackson declined to go into specifics about the medication.
She retired last year and said overcoming her dependence on drugs was a nightmare.
“Having to get off everything was really, really, really hard,” she said.
Jackson also spoke of her difficulty in adjusting to life after basketball. She began college studies late in her career and took an interest in human rights, but was still largely identified as a basketball player.
“Once your career is over, you’ve got to recreate yourself in a way that other people just don’t have to,” said Jackson, who gave birth to a son, Harry, this year.