The Comeback Kid

I thought I’d have some time during the week last week to write a couple of new posts, but never did. At the beginning of the week I had so much bottled up inside of me to say about an event in our family last weekend. I was either too busy or too tired and didn’t really want to think about writing anything. But now, I seem to have a few extra minutes, so here we go.

Almost a year ago, I watched my then 13 year old son get blocked pretty hard after he got around the offensive tackle and was going after the quarterback in his middle school football game. He went down and didn’t get back up, for a while. Actually, he didn’t get back on his own. His coaches had to carry him off. It was one of those moments that, as a parent, you never want to experience. All the different injury possibilities were running through our minds, hoping that it would be something minor. It was his knee. By how he described the pain, the fact that he couldn’t put any weight on it, and I’ve had a torn ACL myself, my heart was sinking fast. I just couldn’t imagine having that injury being so young. After a visit to the Orthopedist the next day and an MRI a couple of days later, it was confirmed, it was the ACL and some torn cartilege. He would need reconstructive knee surgery.

Here he was at 13, staring this injury, major knee surgery, and the long rehab to follow. He was scared and we were scared. We were also extremely disappointed that he would not have a chance to play basketball, which is his favorite sport.

Well we moved forward. Surgery was the week before Thanksgiving, last year. We were blessed by God to have one of the best Orthopedists around. Surgery went great! But, unfortunately, surgery is not the end of the journey. Then, begins the long rehab process, which in my opinion is the hardest part. Once again, I’m thinking, here’s a 13 year old kid that’s going to have to grow in maturity quickly and become disciplined enough to be faithful to his recovery.

The next week, rehab began. 3 times a week, he was at physical therapy for the next 4 months. He was working hard and making great progress. After 4 months, he was released from having to go to physical therapy, but he had to continue working out on his own. So, we started working out together as much as we could. It was obvious to me, by this time, that he was committed to his recovery and determined to comeback all the way. He was working hard with the goal of being able to play summer basketball, but the doctor wouldn’t clear him to play yet. Down, but not out, he continued to push forward through the summer. He was dedicated, lifting weights and working on his basketball skills. He couldn’t play in a game yet, but he continued to work on his individual skills.

Finally, about a month ago, the doctor cleared him to play. Unfortunately, by this time, it was too late to register him for fall basketball. But, we started checking around, and just a couple of weeks ago, we found a team for him to play on.

So at about 6:45PM last Sunday night, I began reflecting on the journey we had been on and how far God had brought him. I thought about the night he was injured, the pain, the surgery, much more pain, the days at rehab, the days at the gym, how much he’d matured and just how HARD he worked to get back. For, at 7:00PM, after so many months of prayer, fear, anxiousness and hard work, I watched my son get rewarded for all of his effort. He played his first basketball game since before his injury. It was one of the greatest joys of my life. It will be a day he’ll never forget. I’ll be the proud dad here and say he didn’t just play, HE PLAYED! He played with such enthusiasm and intensity. You could tell he was thrilled to be back. He made plays, he hustled, he was aggressive. After it was all said and done, he had 14 points, about 10 rebounds and a few steals. And most important, no pain. His knee didn’t bother him at all.

He made his comeback.

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One response to “The Comeback Kid

  1. Been there and done that, well very similar. My middle son John was the football guy. My oldest had the heart but no size. John had both heart and size. My youngest never had a decent coach, so I don’t know. I just know other teams did not run to my youngets side when he played DE. I had never played organized football, it was not available. Seeing how my boys loved it, I think I would also.

    John missed his 9th grade year with a shoulder injury (a high speed bike wreck). He played 10th grade through his senior year and was dominant on both defense and offense, he played iron man and was in on almost every play. He was basically hated and respected by the teams he played against. His junior year his team took second place in his division in the state and his senior year they were playing the final game to determine who would represent the district in the state championship. It was a low scoring game with heavy defense. Two tough teams slugging it out with no score. Finally late in the third quarter, the other team drove down and scored on the shoulders of a large running back that would punish anyone who tried to stop him. John played the middle linebacker position. After scoring the other team determined to put the game away by going for two. John met the full back in the hole face mask to face mask.

    All the while (it was a home game) I was carrying the down marker with the chain gang. I was up close. Neither player got up. The other kid had to be carried off and did not return that game. John had a neck stinger . . . and temporarily lost feeling in his feet and could not move below his belt. When the coach wanted to get him up and move him off the field, I would not let him. (The kid in Mass. had within the last year been paralyzed in a hockey incident.) I immobilized his neck and insisted that he go for X-rays. Result, a bad neck stinger and a concussion. The prognosis was that his neck was weakened and two doctors agreed that his football and wrestling days were over . . . if he wanted to live a full life.

    John could have played college ball. He did have scouts looking at him. Standing on the sideline and looking at my son laying on a football field not able to move gave me pause. He did not go to a school where he could play football but ended up at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee pursuing a degree in missions. It may have been that God wanted him to direct his energy to doing God’s work and give up football. We have never looked back.

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