Jeanette Lee, known throughout the world as “The Black Widow,” has enjoyed one of the most illustrious careers in billiards history. Repeatedly recognized by Billiards Digest as one of the sport’s most powerful people, Lee has claimed more than 30 national and international titles. Formerly ranked as the #1 player in the world, she was named the “WPBA Sportsperson of the Year” in 1998 and has earned Player of the Year honors from both Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiards Magazine. In 2001, Jeanette was the Gold medalist for the United States at the World Games and has also captured Silver twice at the World Championships during her 14-year professional career. In 2004, Jeanette won the World Trick Shot Championships and BCA Open. In 2005 Jeanette won the China Invitational and more recently in 2007 won the World Team Cup, Empress Cup, and the International Skins Billiard Championship with her doubles partner and husband, George Breedlove.
Born on July 9, 1971, Jeanette was raised in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of thirteen, Jeanette was diagnosed with scoliosis, a disorder in which there is a curve, often S-shaped or C-shaped, of the spine or backbone. To alleviate the progression of the debilitating condition, Jeanette underwent scoliosis surgery. The surgical procedure involved techniques to fuse or join the vertebrae along the curve of her spine. Metal rods and other instrumentation were attached to her spine in order to hold her vertebrae together during the months after her surgery while the bones in her spine eventually fused together. Such instrumentation was left in her body where they remain today. Scoliosis surgery is one of the longest and most complicated orthopedic surgical procedures performed on children due to the long operation time and hospitalization for recovery. Her surgery at the time was thought to be a success, but Jeanette’s affliction with scoliosis was not yet at an end.
As an adolescent, Jeanette Lee excelled in scholastics and was accepted into the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Jeanette expected to attend college and pursue a more conventional career after graduating high school. She completed two years of college while pursuing a Bachelor degree in Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education. However, around this time period in her young life, Jeanette discovered the game of pool, a discovery that would change the course of her life. Jeanette immersed herself in all facets of the game and began to practice pool incessantly; practicing up to ten hours a day. Additionally, Jeanette began studying literature on the game and even befriended “old-time” pool professionals.
During this time of her billiards immersion, Jeanette suffered immensely from pain caused by the steel rods implanted in her back. Her intense pursuit to perfect her new passion consequently aggravated her spinal condition. Regardless, Jeanette relentlessly continued to exert herself physically and mentally. According to one account, she played pool consecutively for thirty-seven hours, to the point of unbearable pain, physical exhaustion, and literally had to be lifted and carried back home by her friends.
In 1993, Jeanette’s hard work and unrelenting pursuit of excellence in the game of pool resulted in her professional debut at the age of 21. She turned pro as a full-time member of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) only three years after picking up the sport at age18. In only her first year as a pro, Lee rocketed into the ranks of the top ten in the WPBA. Less than two years later, at the age of 23, Lee was ranked the number one women’s professional pool player in the world.
Jeanette Lee entered the professional pool world with fury. Her reputation grew to legendary proportions as the world came to know her as “The Black Widow,” a persona Lee acquired through her ability to overwhelm, almost devour, her opponents in combination with exclusively wearing black attire during tournaments.