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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Courtney Vandersloot steps away from New York Liberty after death of mother

New York guard Courtney Vandersloot warms up before the WNBA Finals on Oct. 18.  (Getty Images)
By W.G. Ramirez The Spokesman-Review

Jan Vandersloot, mother of former Gonzaga star and WNBA veteran Courtney, died this past weekend after a two-year battle with cancer. She had been diagnosed with advanced multiple myeloma in July 2022.

An announcement was made prior to Thursday’s game between Vandersloot’s New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks.

A moment of silence was held in honor of the Kent, Washington, native’s mother, after which the announced sellout gathering of 10,955 began chanting “SLOOT! SLOOT!”

A view of the jumbotron as the New York Liberty honor Jan Vandersloot, who died after a two-year battle with cancer.  (Courtesy)
A view of the jumbotron as the New York Liberty honor Jan Vandersloot, who died after a two-year battle with cancer. (Courtesy)

“I think it’s just goes to show that we’re a family,” said Jonquel Jones, who finished with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. “And as much as we love basketball and we understand that it’s a business and it’s our jobs and everything, it kind of makes you put things into perspective and understand that there’s a lot of other things going on in life.”

The Liberty defeated the Sparks 93-80.

“Ultimately, we want to support her,” Jones added. “And that’s through an organization, it’s through the fans, obviously, and it’s us going out there and playing hard to make sure that she comes back and she feels like she can take how much every time she needs to get back to her full self.”

Vandersloot has been on the team’s injury report and missed the past six games, listed as “out due to personal reasons.”

“We’ve been playing for her for a lot of our games now, and obviously she’s a big part of our team,” said Sabrina Ionescu, who led all scorers with 31 points.

“Anytime we come together, I think it just shows why we play and what’s really important in life, and obviously, just wrapping our arms around her and her family in this time is important.”

Vandersloot began the season 534 assists behind the WNBA’s all-time leader Sue Bird (3,234), and averaged 7.6 points, 5.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game in the nine games she’s appeared.

“Courtney Vandersloot is one of the best playmakers in the league,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said prior to the game. “(She) helps us with our pace, definitely, another handler for us.”

New York hosts the Sparks on Saturday for a second straight meeting in Brooklyn before heading to Atlanta for the second of back-to-back games in as many days.

The Liberty will then host Minnesota in Long Island on Tuesday.

Brondello said her veteran point guard’s status would remain “day-by-day.”

“We know how much she wants to be here and be able to play for us, and so we’re wanting to do our best to play for her, because she’s a huge part of this team, and we can’t wait for her to come back,” Ionescu said.