- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chamique Holdsclaw is back with the Los Angeles Sparks after an excused two-week absence, which she spent tending to sick relatives in North Carolina.

Holdsclaw will make her season debut tonight against the Detroit Shock in the team’s home opener.

“I’m glad to be back,” she said yesterday, a day after rejoining the team at practice.

Holdsclaw’s father and stepfather were both recently diagnosed with cancer. She found out about their illnesses while playing in Spain during the offseason, but then had to report immediately to Sparks’ training camp.

“I wasn’t as focused as I should have been,” she said. “It’s hard when you’re talking to your relatives on the phone, through their voices you can hear that they’re kind of like struggling.”

Sparks general manager Penny Toler urged Holdsclaw to visit her family.

“Just to go home and see everyone kind of put my mind at peace,” she said.

Holdsclaw’s mother, who is divorced from her father, especially needed the support.

“It’s hard for her,” she said. “Just making sure she’s OK, that’s really my main concern, being there for her.”

Both men are receiving chemotherapy treatments, and Holdsclaw believes she did all that she could for now.

“I think everyone is OK, but you never know,” she said. “If it gets to the point where it’s life and death, of course, that’s definitely more important and I’ll go back.”

While she was in North Carolina, Holdsclaw got a late-night call saying her younger brother had been in a car accident in upstate New York. Then she learned her best friend’s father had died.

“When it rains, it pours,” she said. “I was glad I was able to step away and the organization supported it.”

Holdsclaw had planned to rejoin the team last Saturday for its game in New York. But Toler told her to head back to Los Angeles and gather her thoughts.

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