Lori Nero, a 1998 graduate of St. Joseph’s Academy, was named to the Class 5A All-State girls basketball team three consecutive years by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association. The 6-foot-2 Redsticker averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds per game, connecting on 70 percent of field goal attempts over her four-year career.
Twice Lori was named Honorable Mention All-American by USA Today and as a senior was chosen to play in the Louisiana State All-Star Game. Named District 5-5A MVP three times, Lori was SJA’s Athlete of the Year as a senior and the Advocate’s 1998 Star of Stars for Girls Basketball. She finished her high school career with 2,478 points.
Lori went to Auburn University on a basketball scholarship. She played three seasons, earning third-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a junior. That year, she started 28 of 29 games and ranked second on the team in scoring (12.4 points per game) and rebounding (6.4 per game).
After the birth of her daughter, Legend, Lori transferred to the University of Louisville in 2001. During her senior season, she averaged 17.4 points per game, grabbed 9.3 rebounds per game and shot .533 from the field. She recorded seven double-doubles, including one against then #2-ranked LSU, and led the Cardinals in blocked shots.
In 2003, Lori was drafted in the second round by the WNBA’s Houston Comets. When she was released on the final day of tryouts, Houston coach Van Chancellor advised her to go overseas to gain experience and invited her to return to the Comets for tryouts the following year.
Her first stop was Greece, where she averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field. In 2004-2005, she played for Motzkin/Haifa in Israel, averaging 15.4 points and 8 rebounds per game. She connected on 56 percent of her shots from the field.
In 2005-2006, Lori would lead Motzkin/Haifa to the semifinal round of the Israeli cup and an eventual league runner-up finish. In 2006-2007, Lori played in Ruzomberok, Slovakia, averaging 13.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 60.6 percent from the field. She returned to Greece for the 2007-2008 season and played in Burgas, Bulgaria, in 2009 before ending her career in Spain in 2010.
“The experience of living and traveling around Europe was an adventure,” Lori said. “I enjoyed it so much that I never returned to Houston for that tryout. Living in other countries taught me that I am stronger than I thought I was and that I can adapt to different circumstances. It taught me better communication and survival skills. And I was able to experience and appreciate the beauties of other cultures and environments.”
After retiring in 2010, Lori returned home to Baton Rouge, where she began a career in law enforcement. The characteristics which led to a stellar athletic career are serving Lori well in this new chapter of life. “I enjoy being on a squad because it’s the same as being on a team,” she said. “We all have a common goal, and we work towards that goal every day. The greatest challenge is helping provide a solution/comfort to someone having a very bad, weak or devastating moment. Like I did as an athlete, I have to make split-second decisions based on the information at hand, decisions that hopefully have the best outcome for everyone involved.”
Lori is also a member of the semi-pro Louisiana Bayou Angels, part of a developmental league for athletes aspiring to play professional basketball. While her professional playing days are over, Lori said she still enjoys the competition. “I continue to play because of my love for the game,” she said.
Having played basketball for nearly 30 years, Lori has a lifetime of precious memories. What she most enjoyed were the comradery, the competition, the challenges and accomplishments. “Basketball is hard yet so much fun,” she said. “I liken it to a game of chess where you make a move, the opponent makes a move and then you have to counteract. Basketball makes you accept the good and bad. It forces you to work through mistakes and find ways around obstacles.
“When I look back over my career, there are so many moments that remain special,” Lori added. “Perhaps most important was the gift of building lifelong friendships with people from all walks of life.”
Lori’s parents are Lloyd and Mary Nero. Her sister, Sherri Nero-Joubert, is a 2001 Academy graduate. Daughter Legend is now 16 years of age.