Walk On

January 24, 2018
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 My name is Jason Jamison and I will be going over my life as a basketball player… sort of. I was born on December 31,1955 in California. Today am I coming back to recite my basketball career. When I was born my mom said I would do great things, my first few years were ruff, I was in and out of the hospital and something was wrong with my spine. I was out of the hospital permanently when I was 5, almost fully healed. My day, Roger Jamison, enrolled me in school and made me do sports. I was trying to fit in at in at a school where almost everyone had gone to preschool, I made friends who also played sports despite my odds. I wasn’t as talented in sports as them though. I tried football, but I couldn’t catch. I tried soccer, which was a new sport in the US at the time, but I couldn’t kick. I also tried baseball, but I couldn’t swing. I was hopeless- until I tried basketball. I could shoot, dribble, pass and I was learning to catch. I hung out with my friend who played basketball and we played everyday during recess at my school.
BRRNT… flash forward to my junior high basketball game in the regional finals. My friends and I were all starters on our varsity team in seventh grade. The horn had just sounded and we were going into overtime. Score by score, we were back and forth. We were eventually down by two points with 10 seconds left; we fouled them, knowing it was over. Surprisingly, the opposing team missed both free throws. Our center, Troy rebounded the ball and our coach immediately called a timeout. With six seconds left, our coach set up a play that he thought would make us tie the game and progress into double overtime. Sweat covered, breathless and tired we kept on going. Whoosh.. The inbound was thrown I set the screen, but the ball was unexpectedly handed back off to me.I took a quick glance at the clock which had one second remaining; off balance, I threw up the shot from behind the three-point-line. While the ball was blazing through the air, time froze… team had their fingers crossed that it wasn’t going in. Swish. We won. It was incredible, everyone cheering, getting and giving fist-pumps and getting recognition from the people one the stands and my teammates. That was one of the best days in my life I can remember. Later, I had a party to celebrate our victory with my friends. Something did felt off though. Next year, my grades were robust and my basketball was even better. One of my friends Troy, who played on the team last year, was starting to shine. Everyday after school we would go to the gym or practice and he would be the star of every pickup game. This season coach switched him from center to small forward because he didn't grow much over summer. In games, he would start over me. I was mad. Over this year, in eighth grade, I would work harder than ever before to desperately try and start over him. And in the first playoff game of the season I did. Despite losing in the quarterfinals, for the four games in the playoffs I started I scored a spectacular average of about 20 points a game. In high school Troy and I were the only freshman to make the varsity basketball team. We played decent minutes, but it was taking sometime to adjust to my new school. My old school was very small and this one was huge. Next year, as a sophomore, I started and got three scholarships, all from UC schools. My school grades were dropping, so my dad got me a tutor. My tutor inspired me because he was a doctor and he knew so many things that I didn’t that I found useful. After I was done with school work he would tell me about athletes he worked with and how they recovered from their injuries and setbacks. Getting back to basketball, I averaged 18 points and 11 assists per game leading my team to the division I CIF playoffs. Troy was doing well too, earning the starting role as shooting guard on our team. The year after, my grades started boosting and I was playing city basketball on a team with one of my teammates, so we weren’t rusty. The scholarships kept rolling in, including some D1 teams from out of state. I was now averaging 25 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds a game. Being a prospect, I received a lot of positive attention. As a kid who was in the hospital for long periods of time with back problems, I never thought I could do anything close to this. Again my team made it to the CIF playoffs and advancing two rounds this time. Three of my teammates and I played on a city team for many seasons over that year and we went undefeated two seasons in a row. I would undoubtedly count this as another good year progressing forward. After in my senior year, I had good grades again and I was improving in basketball, like usual. Then I had about 10 scholarships and I was averaging even better numbers than last year.

This was the biggest game of my college career. We were playing a ranked team that had played a lot of competition in the first round of March Madness. I was privileged enough to be the star on my team, even though I went to a small college near my house for convenience. This game was a test to see if I was the player I really was because we haven’t had played a lot of competition until that point. Now this wasn’t some perfect fourth quarter game that was very close, it went a lot differently. Tweet… the whistle was blown and the game had started. We had received the tip off for some immediate points. Play by play we were dominating this game. Three pointer, fast break, and-1 you name it. My team were scoring in every way. At the end of the first quarter we were up 20 to 8. This was still an intimidating game, judging I have never played in a stadium with over 2,000 people in it until that day. The second quarter started off unanticipated.  I received a pass and my foot was on the sideline, ruled out of bounds. The opposing team would then finish on me with a fade-away jumper. The next play I passed but it was stolen, I was frustrated. Like a hawk I spotted the ball and chased down the player who was like the mouse. I blocked the ball in midair. Later my teammate told me that when I blocked the ball I kicked my feet up so my body was parallel to the ground. I was then falling down until Thump!! Lights out. I woke up, panicking. I was in a hospital room. I tried to sit up but something stopped me. Anxiously, I tried again and pain rushed to my brain. Something was wrong, something was very wrong. I woke up again, this time somewhere else. I looked at the door of the room and it said radiology. I heard a noise behind me and turned my neck around. It was my team's personal trainer, Tom. He said, “oh, your awake.” He walked to the door and yelled out into the hallway. A woman in a doctor’s uniform came in and said, “Hello, I’m Dr. Johnson.”  She then asked, “do you remember where you were last?” “I think so” I answered. “Where?” Tom said. I told him what I remembered. The doctor then said “good, good.” Tom and Dr. Johnson called my coach and dad. They arrived about half and hour later. They explain to me the devastating news; I am paralyzed, but in a way where the feeling comes back to me sometimes in my legs. They also said I can’t play basketball anymore and that they don’t know what is exactly wrong with me. They also said I would never be able to walk again. I then told all of them to leave while I took in the news. All my hopes and dreams, crushed in one injury from one play where I just tried to make up for my mistake. Days passed and the doctors and officials let me leave the hospital. Then I went from doctor to doctor, therapists to evaluators and they all told me the same thing: “I don’t know what is wrong with you.” I spent hours at a time sitting at my hotel desk, away from everyone I loved because want to show them what a failure I was.

After a week from my time in the hospital I was thinking about how good I really was in my prime basketball years. At my desk I was thinking about my early years in highschool when I remembered something my old tutor told me. He said he had this one patient who played quarterback for a highschool team. This quarterback had a history of back problems. In a game one time the quarterback had been hit hard by a defensive tackle. He had came to my tutor, who was a doctor, because the football player was paralyzed from the waist down. My tutor took a special scan and found that this quarterback had a rare dislocation of a part of the spinethat wouldn’t show up on MRI’s or X Rays. When the spot of the spine was hit with enough force it could dislocate part of your spine. His advice to the player was to have this scan done by a specialist who could depict how to approach and succeed in this type of spinal surgery. This sounded really convincing to me at that point but the only problem was I didn’t know what type of scan to use, who to go to, or what part of the spine it was. This had convinced me that there was hope. This may sound crazy, but I went back to school and studied hard for years and years, just for that one reason. Normal people would had given up but I was determined, I was Jason Jamison. One day, after graduation from college earning a bachelors, masters, and PHD. The funny thing was it didn’t even seem like much, maybe it was an effect of being paralyzed. Locked in a wheelchair, feeling stuck, determined, and hardworking I was happy. I now thought I had the expertise to finally abolish my major setback. I figured it out I knew what to tell the surgeon. I walked in, convinced the office to perform surgery with just a likely, probable answer to what was wrong with me. And to everyone's surprise I came no longer paralyzed, but it did take me months to get my legs back to walking and running condition. After graduating college and not walking for years I had nowhere to go, no league for me to play in. I did earn publicity. I was all over news articles “Remember basketball project Jason Jamison, He is Healthy” “Jamison a Miracle”. But what I did have then that I did have now that I didn’t have before was an education quality enough to land me a high-class job. I started as a doctor, then moved to a trainer, helping athletes just like my tutor. I even was a minor trainer for some NBA teams! I did make my dreams of being in the NBA, just not as I did. Looking back on this part of my life I can take these following ideas: stay hungry, dreams are possible, and even with setbacks stay determined and work around them.






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