Trailblazing sportswriter Jane Gross died Wednesday at age 75 Sportswriter Jane Gross blazed a trail for women in sports journalism. She died Wednesday at age 75.

Trailblazing sportswriter Jane Gross died Wednesday at age 75

Trailblazing sportswriter Jane Gross died Wednesday at age 75

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Sportswriter Jane Gross blazed a trail for women in sports journalism. She died Wednesday at age 75.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Jane Gross followed in her father's footsteps when she became a sportswriter - right up to the locker room door.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Gross was covering the New York Knicks in 1975 when she became the first female reporter to get access to the locker room of a pro basketball team. Female reporters usually had to wait in the hall.

ILIANA LIMON ROMERO: Having access to the locker room is a big deal because that's where the real stories are told. Women who were left outside the locker room typically just had to catch someone as they were walking toward a bus or a car. And you would get very dismissive, quick answers and none of the insight that people tend to share when they have more time.

KELLY: That's Iliana Limon Romero, sports editor at the LA Times and president of the Association of Women in Sports Media. But being first had a downside. Throughout Gross' career, male athletes harassed her. She had to endure sexist phone calls, voicemails, emails.

LIMON ROMERO: She had a bucket of ice water thrown on her. She had spaghetti and meatballs poured on her head.

CHANG: But Gross' efforts to increase women's access to players inspired a whole generation, says Limon Romero.

LIMON ROMERO: I really feel like I stand on the shoulders of Jane Gross and so many other women who were of her era. I don't think my job is possible without her. I am the first woman to serve as a sports editor at the Los Angeles Times.

CHANG: Gross spent most of her career at The New York Times, where she wrote about subjects ranging from the AIDS crisis to abortion to Alzheimer's disease. When her mother's health began to fail, Gross pivoted to report on aging. She wrote about the difficulties of navigating the financial realities of end-of-life care and the emotional aspects of caring for a dying parent.

KELLY: Back in 2012, Gross talked with NPR about how her mother's slow decline in health changed their relationship.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JANE GROSS: I had a very difficult relationship with my mother, which - because of how long this lasted and because of how hard both of us worked at the relational part of it, we had a completely different relationship by the time she died. And it's those memories and sort of that mother that I take away with me.

KELLY: Here's her advice for anyone going through a similar experience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GROSS: Be the son. Be the daughter. Get as much out of the time as you can. Give them as much pleasure. Give yourself as much opportunity to store up good memories because it's going to end the same way regardless.

CHANG: Jane Gross died on Wednesday at the age of 75.

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