Jannah Tucker is fighting to take back control of her life both on and off of the basketball court.
As recorded via Philly.com, Jannah Tucker detailed the frightening time she spent being held hostage, while being physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by her ex-boyfriend.
“I got the protective order the day after I escaped,” Jannah Tucker details.
The interview is taking place to persuade the NCAA to grant her an extra semester, and therefore waive the five-year-window in which it is allowed to play for college basketball.
Tucker initially planned to enroll at the University of Tennessee in summer 2013, which would have allowed her to begin her freshman year a semester early. But she physically could not make it to campus. She had been kidnapped by her boyfriend.
“I went to see my boyfriend before I left,” Jannah Tucker said. “You know, this is the love of my life. My first love. I’m going to be with him forever.”
And then things got out of hand.
“He would not let me leave,” Tucker said, according to Philly.com. “I remember every moment of that day so vividly. He took my phone. I had no contact with my parents, my family. They’re freaking out. They go to the police. The police are like, ‘No, she’s 18. She’s got to come on her own.’”
Jannah Tucker says her boyfriend would also email her coaches, pretending to be her, saying that she decided to stay with her boyfriend for the day and would be living with him from then on out.
The signs of abuse were always there
“Physical and verbal abuse all the time,” Tucker recalled. “He would hit my knee because he knew I’d had surgery. Just trying to tear me down, telling me I was worthless. You start to believe those things.”
Tucker’s boyfriend was also a basketball player. She and her family asked not to print his name.
“I 100 percent started to believe that I was just not doing the right things, like, ‘I make him do this, I’m just a bad person,’ Tucker expressed to the panel. “Because when they’re nice to you, you think that’s them. That’s genuinely who they are. But that’s not the case.”
Her parents knew where she was and reported it to the police, but since she was 18, they knew it had to be her decision.
Finally, after months of failed attempts and no help from the police, her boyfriend had started a new job which left her alone. She finally had time to search for a phone and found one. She called up her parents and arranged to meet up and was back into safety.
But it didn’t last. Her naivety got the best of her.
“He reached out to me. I was super naive,” said Tucker. “Again I thought that super nice person was him.”
This time, they met up, she got into his car, and was quickly back in his captivity. She was able to tell her mother via text that she was being verbally, physically, and emotionally abused again.
Back at his home, her mother tried to convince the police to intervene. But it was her cousin, a security officer at a college, who was able to persuade authorities to step in.
At the time she was found, the police noted a large bruise on her cheek which was enough to gain a protective order against him. According to Philly, he eventually pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault and was sentenced to eight years.
Following the traumatic ordeal of being held against her will for months, Tucker stayed home for her freshman year before leaving for school at Tennessee.
And now she’s found a new place at Villanova. Jannah Tucker is finishing her bachelor’s degree in sociology, and will be starting on a masters’ degree soon.
“The whole thing with my domestic violence,” Tucker wrote to the NCAA, “he targeted certain body parts of mine, so that I wouldn’t play basketball again. So for me, this is very deep in the sense of, ‘No, I will play basketball, and I will continue on the path that I am on. And I will do it with excellence.”