M.A. Voepel, ESPN.comJun 5, 2023, 12:27 AM ET
M.A. Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.Former Syracuse Orange women’s basketball standout Tiana Mangakahia is retiring from the sport after being diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, she announced on social media Sunday.
Mangakahia, a native of Brisbane, Australia, turned 28 in April and has been playing professionally in her home country. She competed for Syracuse from 2017 to 2021, with a break during that time after she was diagnosed with breast cancer while at the school.
“Without going into too much detail, I have recently been diagnosed with stage IV cancer, which has spread into other areas of my body,” Mangakahia posted Sunday. “Sadly, I have been informed by specialists it’s time for me to retire and think about life after being a professional athlete.
“While my basketball journey on court has come to a close, this won’t be the last time you see me involved in the sport. Even though my journey is uncertain, what I am certain about is my passion for life and bringing greater awareness throughout the community about this nasty disease.
“I am looking forward to pursuing a career in coaching and giving back to the sport that has given so much to me.”
A 5-foot-6 guard, Mangakahia averaged 17.1 points and 9.1 assists in her first two seasons at Syracuse, from 2017 to 2019. Then in June 2019, she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma and immediately began chemotherapy. She stayed in Syracuse for her treatment, and also had a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.
She was then told she was cancer free, and returned to play 20 games during the 2020-2021 season. She was not selected in the 2021 WNBA draft but did go to the Phoenix Mercury’s training camp before being waived. She then returned to Australia to play professionally.
In her social media post Sunday, Mangakahia also wrote about having played basketball since she was about 5 years old, and gave her appreciation to teammates and coaches.
“The experiences I have endured and the amount of joy this amazing sport has brought me is too overwhelming to explain,” she wrote. “I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey. There have been ups and downs throughout my career and life. I know regardless of this horrible disease, I will continue to be ME and surround myself with those who love and support me.
“Cancer does scare me, but not living my life to the fullest scares me even more.”
Source : ESPN