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Back in the 1990s, ESPN regularly showed billiards tournaments from around the country. One of the most popular players to appear on a regular basis was No. 1-ranked women’s player Jeanette “Black Widow” Lee. Since those days in the spotlight, life has been a tremendous challenge for Lee. The scoliosis she has managed since childhood has progressively gotten worse.

This week, a news release revealed Lee is battling Stage 4 ovarian cancer and the prognosis is grim. The 49-year-old’s top priority is ensuring that her three daughters, ranging in age from 10 to 16, are taken care of once she is gone. A GoFundMe account has been created to help raise funds and one of the first to donate was a NASCAR Hall of Fame legend who made a sizeable contribution.    

Jeanette Lee becomes most popular women’s billiards player

In the world of billiards, there are just a select few players who made such an impression during their careers with their style and success that they are remembered years later. Minnesota Fats and Willie Mosconi were the two most popular men. Among women, there was one who stood out above all the others.

Jeanette “Black Widow” Lee was a dominant force in the women’s game, and ESPN regularly featured her during its broadcast of billiard tournaments held around the country. At the height of Lee’s career, she was the No. 1-ranked women’s player in the world. 

In 1994, Lee won Player of the Year honors from the Women’s Professional Billiards Association after winning multiple tournaments, including the WPBA Nationals. Several years later, she received the organization’s prestigious Sportsperson of the Year Award.

As recently as 2007, Jeanette Lee was ranked No. 4 in Pool and Billiard Magazine’s “Fans’ Top 20 Favorite Players Poll.” In 2013, she was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.  

Jeanette Lee diagnosed with terminal cancer

Jeanette Lee was diagnosed with scoliosis as a child. Despite her condition, she fought through it to become the most popular and successful female billiards player in the game’s history. Unfortunately, the disease has progressed and her condition has worsened in recent years. She has endured 19 surgeries. 

According to those close to Lee, the pain from her scoliosis masked a much more serious condition, which was recently diagnosed and made public. Lee is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer that has metastasized into her lymph nodes. Doctors have given her less than a year to live.

Recognizing the gravity of her situation, the single mother of three is understandably concerned about the future of her three daughters, ages 10, 11, and 16. Trying to address Jeanette Lee’s concerns, her agent Tom George and several others launched a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her children and their future.  

NASCAR legend Tony Stewart makes generous donation

The Jeanette Lee Legacy Fund has a goal of $250,000 and has received more than 1,100 donations totaling more than $114,000. While there are plenty of her fellow competitors and those in the world of billiards making contributions, one specific donation raised eyebrows for its amount and the name behind it. 

It came from a Tony Stewart. That name isn’t that uncommon so many wondered if it was the NASCAR legend and Hall of Famer. George validated the person’s identity to the Tampa Bay Times

“Yes, Jeanette knows Tony,” George confirmed.

It’s an interesting relationship that no one would have expected. The donation by the three-time Cup Series champion, who had an outward persona that rubbed many of his competitors, media, and fans the wrong way, reveals he has a compassionate side and a willingness to step up and help out a friend in need. 


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