Basketball has been a part of my life since I was a little kid. In 5th grade I tried out for the school basketball team and I was the only 5th grader to make the A team with all 7th and 8th graders. This was a big accomplishment not only in my basketball career but also my life in general, it was a big confidence boost. When I was 6 years old I was diagnosed with anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, ADD, OCD, depression and learning disabilities. So school, socializing, and confidence has always been a struggle. Another big confidence boost that helped me continue basketball was when the coach at the end of my 5th grade season coach told me, “for a 10 year old you have major skill and if you continue developing your skills, you can go far in this game”. Those words have stuck with me my entire career. Whenever I felt like giving up I remember those words and they motivate me. As I continued my basketball career, developing skills, winning awards, having undefeated seasons my family has always been there, their my biggest supporters. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for them.
My freshmen year could not have gone better. I was a starter on the varsity team, league top scorer, MVP, and I was added to the northeast top college prospect list for basketball. For my sophomore season I was on track to have another great season. The first 3 games went great. First two games I had 17 points, then in the 3rd game I scored 28 point in 1 quarter, the fourth quarter to be exact. Going into the 4th game I was feeling great but little did I know life was about to change forever.
It was Saturday, December 16, 2017, it was the 1st quarter and I had scored 9 points so far. At the end of the 1st quarter coach talked to us and got our energy up. About 3 minutes into the 2nd quarter I stole the ball, I was on a fast break, and right when I was at center court, one of the girls from the other team came out of nowhere and pushed me down to the ground, snapping my ankle in the process. I ended up breaking my ankle, heel, and the left side of my foot, along with tearing all the ligaments and tendons. I also found out I had a tarsal coalition: a bone disorder where two bones that are usually separated are actually fused together, decreasing motion in my foot.
Crutches and a cast is what I lived in for the next 11 months, physical therapy everyday, sometimes even twice a day before and after school. When I was in the cast at physical therapy we worked on strengthening my left leg so it was able to hold my body weight for the next 11 months, and with the right leg that had the cast on it we worked on rotating my hip so it wouldn't lock. But this was only the beginning of the challenge that faced me.
There was also a possible surgery that could help but it is extremely risky because of the amount of damage that was done to my foot. With all this, the doctors were doubtful that I would ever play basketball again but more importantly walk again. As a 16 year old kid, finding this out was the most horrifying thing I had ever heard. When the doctors told me this I remember turning pale and feeling nauseous, my entire life was about to change. I remember feeling angry about everything and at everyone. I had worked so hard to become the basketball player I was. I was one of the top players on the east coast, leading scorer, 6 time MVP, 3 time all-star, top recruit for college, and the player everyone feared on the court. A part of me wanted to just give up, without basketball I didn't know who I was.
One night laying in bed, flipping a basketball in the air, I was thinking about my basketball career and how far I had come. I was so close to achieving my dream of playing college basketball and then after college playing in the WNBA. The dream inside me was still burning with fire and I remember telling myself, “I'm not going out like this, I've come too far to throw it away now, I’m gonna prove everyone wrong, I will walk again and more importantly to me, play basketball again”.
With the cast still on, I started to work my upper body, building back my strength and muscle. My dad even put a chair outside on our basketball court so I could sit and shoot the ball. At physical therapy I remember pushing 10 times harder to build as much muscle as I possibly could before the cast came off because I knew it was going to be hard.
When the cast finally came off for the first time I remember looking down at my leg and just seeing bone. I had lost almost all my muscle in my leg. The doctor put a removable air cast on my leg and told me that I had a long road ahead of me, but he would help me achieve the impossible.
Little by little I learned how to use my foot again, from squeezing putty in between my toes to moving my foot side to side with a band I started to gain motion and muscle again. Finally it was time to learn to walk again. The removable cast came off and I was sitting on the edge of the chair. With two physical therapists holding each of my arm, I stood up. Week by week, month by month, inch by inch, baby step by baby step and eventually step by step I had done the impossible. However there was still one more obstacle to face: to play basketball again. It began with a slow jog and eventually it turned into a sprint. Still in physical therapy, we worked on basketball moves such as pivoting, jumping, and sprinting. I had started to get my groove back but I still wasn't 100%. I still had pain day to day, and it was a lot harder to run, jump, and pivot. That's when the doctors told me that it was going to like that for the rest of my life. There had been so much damage done, that I had permanently lost some motion in my foot and a lot of muscle so things were gonna be a lot harder than they were before. I was upset about the news but they reminded me how far I had come and I had done the impossible. So with that I started to find different ways to do things. I worked out everyday, strengthening the muscle around the part of my foot that had been damaged and I worked on getting my rhythm back in basketball. It was hard, but I never gave up, I just had to figure out different ways to do things. With that, I was ready to play in my first game my junior year, and I started back just like I left: top scorer, MVP one of the top players on the East Coast ,and one of the top college recruits. This year I also got the honor of being awarded the heron award.
There are days I get frustrated, especially when my foot really hurts and it's swollen and I have to take a break. It has taken me a long time to realize this and accept it but I do believe that there is a reason to why this happened to me. It has taught me how to never give up in something that you want. You have to believe in the impossible and in yourself. If you put in the work, the reward will eventually come. This injury has taught me a lot about myself to. I am strong, hardworking, and passionate and that's how I will live the rest of my life. Without the injury, I don't think I would have ever found out how strong I am, but also what I want to do in college. I realized I wanted to go into athletic training or physical therapy to help people just like me and to give them hope. I believe I can share my story to help others believe in themselves. I want people to know me as the comeback kid because that's exactly who I am, I am living my basketball dream, and I want to be on a team that is going to push me to my limits. I feel I can bring a lot of skills to the team as well such as shooting, scoring, dribbling, and post-moves. I will work harder than anyone else. You will never meet a kid that will push themselves harder than I do. I have already proven how hard I push myself.I want a team and a coach that believes in the team as a whole and also in myself and I will do the same for you guys. I'm ready to take my game to the next level and I can't wait to show people what I got.