ESPN Sportscaster overcomes tragedy to become a success

Published 9:09 pm Monday, November 19, 2018

ESPN sportscaster Lauren Sisler replayed the worst moment in her life on Monday night at the Selma Quarterback Club.

A capacity crowd at the Carl C. Morgan Convention heard Sisler discuss the events that occurred on March 24, 2003. She was a freshman gymnast at Rutgers University. At 1 a.m., Sisler received a call from her father, George Sisler, that her mother, Leslie Sisler, had died in Roanoke, Virginia.

By the time Sisler arrived at the airport, her uncle arrived. He told Sisler her father died before she reached the airport. She lost both of her parents to a fentanyl overdose just hours apart.

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Sisler said her parents had both been dealing with chronic pain, her mother, who died at age 45, from degenerative disc disease, and her father, who passed at 52, from his service in the Navy.

“Both of my parents had been prescribed various drugs to deal with the pain and the depression they had been experiencing over the course of several years,” she said.

Losing her parents provided a devastating blow to Sisler and she was unsure about the future. Her aunt and uncle convinced her to return to Rutgers.

“My aunt and uncle told me I needed to go back to Rutgers because the coaches and my teammates were counting on me,” Sisler said. “I had a lot of support from my family and friends.”

Sisler said her grades began to drop from honor roll to C’s and D’s, as well as questioning a major in Sports Medicine. Over a year, Sisler said she did some self-evaluation and switched over to Sports Broadcasting. Suddenly, her grades soared again.

“I realized Sports Medicine wasn’t for me,” Sisler said. “I decided to become a broadcaster. I graduated in May of 2006.”

Sisler, 33, said the pain of losing her parents never goes away.

“My family left with so many questions that to this day, 15 years later, very few answers as to what happened,” Sisler said. “There were no warning signs.  My parents won’t be here when I get married and have kids.”

It was the final meeting of the Selma Quarterback for the year and $110,000 had been raised in scholarship money. Alabama and Auburn each received $50,000 for their scholarship endowment.

Several Dallas County athletes received scholarships: William Wright (Southside), Ford Chittom (Morgan Academy), Hardin Utsey (Morgan Academy), Pierson Atchison (Morgan Academy) and Ed Williams (Morgan Academy).