Jerry Tarkanian leaves hospital after four-week stay for pneumonia

Jerry Tarkanian is home again after spending most of the holiday season in the hospital.

The 84-year-old Hall of Fame basketball coach was released Wednesday from Valley Hospital Medical Center after spending almost a month there following a relapse of the pneumonia that initially hospitalized him in mid-November.

Tarkanian, who coached 19 years at UNLV and guided the Rebels to four Final Fours and the 1990 national championship, had spent Thanksgiving at home after a six-day stay at Valley in November.

But in early December, he again had respiratory issues and was readmitted to Valley, where he spent the next four weeks until being released late Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s a fighter,” said his wife, Lois, on Thursday. “He really is.”

“We had a lot of family over for Thanksgiving, and he was glad to be home to see everyone. But after the holiday, he had a relapse. So we had to put him back in the hospital.”

The family was able to keep the news out of the press and away from social media. Lois Tarkanian, a Las Vegas city councilwoman, was not at Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s State of the City address at City Hall on Thursday, leading to speculation that something was wrong.

In her opening remarks, Goodman wished the Tarkanians well and acknowledged Lois Tarkanian’s absence.

“Maybe we can get jobs with the CIA,” Lois Tarkanian said jokingly. “I don’t know how it didn’t get out.”

Lois Tarkanian praised the doctors and nurses at Valley for the care they gave her husband.

“The doctors did a very good job, but it took an awful lot out of him,” Lois Tarkanian said. “He’s doing well now, and he’s very glad to be home.

“They say medicine is a science. But to me, it’s an art. You can never be sure what’s going to happen, and our family is once again grateful to the staff at Valley for the care they provided Jerry.”

Tarkanian, who was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013, watched UNLV’s 64-62 loss to UNR on Wednesday night on TV. And while he’s not strong enough to travel right now, Lois Tarkanian said she hopes her husband will be able to attend a UNLV game this season.

“He’s looking forward to when he can come back to the Thomas & Mack this year,” she said.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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