Popular billiards star Jeanette Lee (1971-) was born on this day in Brooklyn, New York, the youngest of three children born to Korean immigrants. Diagnosed with severe scoliosis at age 12, she underwent surgery to break and realign her spine.
"I was in the most pain you can imagine," she recalled.
Still unable to bend over more than at an 80-degree angle, Lee fell in love with the sport of pool while in high school. She quickly mastered the hand-eye coordination and turned pro in 1993.
She has been called "the Black Widow" for her aggressive play, long dark hair hanging down her back, and for wearing only black during tournaments. "It almost gives me the freedom to be as bad as I want to be," Lee said of her nickname.
"I think women should be very proud to be women and celebrate their femininity, and that's something that I do," she said. "I am very proud to be a woman. I want to be feminine and still be able to be great and hold myself with class and dignity."
With marksmanlike precision at the table, Lee's impressive victories include the Tournament of Champions, dozens of WPBA titles, and the prestigious WPBA Sportsperson of the Year Award.
"I think being good at anything gives you confidence,” Lee said. "Working hard at anything and seeing its rewards feels good. It gives you a really good feeling about yourself."
Her creation of The Jeanette Lee Foundation and advocacy for The Scoliosis Association have helped increase awareness and research in the fight against the disease. She is living proof that you can succeed in spite of a disability.
She said, "My passion for pool is so much greater than my passion for glory... when I play great there’s nothing better in the world."
You suffer, you survive, you inspire.