fear. The grieving she’d deferred was finally catching up to her. “After she died, I just kept going,” Harris says. “And so did everyone else in my family. We never discussed it, not once. We just all suppressed our feelings.”
With no one to talk to, Harris began to sink into a deep depression that was affecting her studies and her game. “I just felt such emptiness,” she remembers. “For the first time, I wasn’t doing well and I was so depressed that I was starting not to even care.” That’s when she decided to seek therapy.
“My mother was very much in that what-goes-on-in-this-house-stays-in-this-house mode, and she didn’t show her pain to her children. I had seen my mother cry three times in my life: once when Martin Luther King was assassinated, once when her dad died, and then when Ronald Reagan was elected president,” says Harris, laughing at that last one. “I always wondered, what did she do with her pain? She was a woman who ‘got it done,’ so I was very much a woman who ‘got it done,’ and didn’t need any help. But I was in so much pain; I finally realized I did need help.”
Harris sought counseling on her own, but didn’t say anything to her family for a long time. The therapy’s positive impact was felt instantly, as she began to tap into and share her feelings about her mother and her mother’s death for the first time. She felt guilty about not having been there, about not having been able to help her, about leaving for Mexico. “I felt somehow that maybe if I had been there, my mother would still be alive,” Harris recalls. “I was angry, afraid, confused about what exactly had happened to my mother and why.”
Harris was in therapy for about a year. Therapy allowed her to unload it all-enabled the dam inside of her to break. It relieved her loneliness and sense of utter isolation and validated what she was going through. She learned that all of her feelings were perfectly normal, given her experience; she learned
strategies to cope with her feelings; and-most of all-she learned the benefits, even the deep necessity, of sharing those feelings, which was something her family did not do.
Therapy got her through that harrowing time. But her mother’s life and loss continue to serve as both motivation and touchstone for everything Harris does-and she’s done a lot.
She went on to earn both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at Austin. She played professional basketball in Switzerland and Italy, becoming fluent in Italian. She parlayed her academic and WNBA championship successes into a sports broadcasting career for radio as well as ESPN, Fox Sports, and Lifetime Television.
Today, the founder and president of Austin-based Tall Tree Productions is also founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization Families of Incarcerated Loved Ones, and creator and executive producer of America’s Fitness Show, which airs locally in Texas. She recently published her sixth book, Crashing Hollywood: