Tiffany Jackson, an All-American for Texas' women's basketball team and the No. 5 pick in the 2007 WNBA draft, died after a battle with breast cancer, the school announced Monday. Jackson was 37.
She played for the Longhorns from 2003 to 2007 after a stellar high school career at prep power Duncanville in Texas, where in 2003 she won a state championship and was the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.
Jackson was a three-time All-American, the 2004 Big 12 Freshman of the Year and was first-team all-conference three times. Jackson played 123 games with the Longhorns, starting 103. Texas went 30-5 her rookie season and advanced to the 2004 NCAA Sweet 16, as Jackson was named the national freshman of the year by ESPN.
She is the only player in Texas women's hoops history to have at least 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 steals and 150 blocks. Career-wise, Jackson is fifth among Longhorn women's players with 1,917 points, fourth with 1,039 rebounds, third with 313 steals and seventh with 181 blocked shots. She is one of five players in program history to top 1,000 in both points and rebounds.
"Tiffany had a great career and was an impact player," said former Texas women's basketball coach Jody Conradt, who retired after Jackson's senior season in 2007. "She was recognized for her all-around game and the fact that she was tremendously mobile and could play multiple positions. She was beloved by teammates, and we share in the sadness of her passing."
The 6-foot-3 forward was selected by the New York Liberty in 2007. She played three full seasons with the Liberty, and during her fourth season was traded to Tulsa. Jackson had her best WNBA season in 2011 with the Shock, when she averaged 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
She was with Tulsa through 2015, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Jackson returned to play one more season in the WNBA, in 2017, with Los Angeles, before retiring at age 32. She then returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach for two years.
Jackson was the current head coach at Wiley College, an NAIA school in Marshall, Texas.
"We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Tiffany Jackson, one of the greatest players in the history of Texas women's basketball," current Longhorns coach Vic Schaefer said. "From her days as a player for DFW Elite to her days as a player at the University of Texas, Tiffany has meant so much to so many people in this great state of Texas. I know she was so excited to be the head coach at Wiley College for the upcoming season. She will be sorely missed by so many. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family."
In 2016, Jackson spoke to ESPN about dealing with cancer as a young woman and a professional athlete.
"You hear 'breast cancer,' and you think you understand it," she said. "But you don't really understand it until it hits closer to you. Or it hits home.
"It was something that wasn't even in my mind, really. So I feel like just knowing there is a possibility will help people. I wish I would have known more. I have been talking at schools and colleges about it. Especially with the African American community. Because we aren't getting early checkups as much. So we're being diagnosed when it's stage 3 or stage 4, and we're dying at higher rates. So I've been preaching, preaching, preaching that."