A Celebration of Life Memorial for Melissa "Mo" Jo Erickson, 34, will be held on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 5:00PM inside the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus.
Melissa was born in the early morning of Tuesday, September 19, 1978 in Platte Hospital, Platte, South Dakota. After battling a seven-year fight with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease), Melissa passed away peacefully early Wednesday evening, June 5, 2013 at Bailey-Boushay House in Seattle, Washington with family and close friends present.
Melissa lived the first years of her life in Platte, South Dakota where she attended Platte Elementary School through the fourth (4th) grade. She and her family then moved to Littleton, Colorado which is where she ultimately became a star athlete at Heritage High School; helping lead her team to a four-year mark of 82-8, including 24-0 and the state championship her junior year. She averaged 17.9 points and was second-team all-state as a senior. Melissa graduated from Heritage in 1997.
Her passion for competition and sports involved her in volleyball, softball, and the love of her life, basketball. Summers were spent traveling with the Colorado Hoopsters and competing in elite high school basketball tournaments throughout the United States. Her play garnered the attention of collegiate athletic programs, most notably, the University of Washington.
This led her to the city she loved and the school of her dreams, the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Melissa earned a full athletic scholarship with the Huskies and competed in 92 games. Although her senior year was cut short due to an ACL injury, her team still went on to win the Pac-10 conference championship and reached the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight. After her collegiate basketball career ended, Melissa graduated later that Spring in 2001 with a Bachelor's in Sociology.
Melissa continued to contribute to women's basketball as she went on to work as an Assistant Coach at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana and then as a graduate assistant at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). However, her love of playing basketball brought her back to Seattle in 2003 where she trained to get back into shape and then traveled to Germany and Portugal to play professionally. It was during her time in Portugal that she felt changes in her ability to compete stating, "I started to feel very inadequate on the court. I was out of balance, slow and unable to jump as high as normal. I felt that I was just getting old and not training as I used to." Shortly thereafter, Melissa returned home to Seattle and continued to play basketball recreationally but decided to pursue a different career, working with children. She worked for the State of Washington as a youth counselor as well as a parole officer at Echo Glen Children's Center.
In 2006, the day before Melissa's 28th birthday, and after numerous evaluations by doctors and specialists, she was diagnosed with the incurable disease, ALS.
Besides basketball and sports, Melissa had an undying love for family and friends. She also had many other hobbies and interests which included music, dancing, shopping, attending parties, traveling, and spending time with children. She was very much a free spirit and loved just having a good ol' time. She had a passion for life and was loved (amongst countless other reasons) for her smile and her laughter.
Melissa is survived by her parents, Leanne and Joe Erickson, her sister Kristin, and her god-daughters Coco, India, and Jadyn.
The Erickson Family kindly requests, that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to The Melissa Erickson Foundation which is still in existence and are organizing this wonderful Celebration of Life for Melissa.
The Erickson Family also requests, that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALSTDI) in honor of Melissa "Jo" Erickson. All monetary contributions are tax-deductible, but more importantly, will help support the continued research to one day determine the cause and the cure for this unforgiving disease. Please visit www.als.net/donate/
Thank you to all of you for the love and care you have given to our sweet daughter Melissa!http://blogs.seattletimes.com/womenshoops/2013/06/07/memorial-service-set-for-melissa-erickson-former-washington-player/