Long Island’s Julian Boyd Back From One-In-Million DiagnosisPosted by jstevrtc on December 20th, 2010
We’re constantly impressed by the fearlessness shown by athletes in coming back from injuries and medical hurdles, playing as if nothing had ever happened, ignoring that the rolled ankle becomes a little less stable every time it happens, that concussions can have an additive effect over time, that blood sugar levels have to be monitored no matter if it’s during study hall or a time out during an overtime. It’s even more amazing when players play with or through medical issues that 18-22 year-olds, quite frankly, shouldn’t have to deal with, espeically those involving the ticker. After nearly dying twice this past summer from cardiac issues, do you think Seton Hall’s Herb Pope won’t enjoy every snowflake this winter or every fruitcake he gets as a Christmas present, let alone the chance to continue playing basketball?
In that spirit, check out this AP story from the Wall Street Journal today about the return of Long Island University’s Julian Boyd, who has returned to the court this season after taking a year off. After a freshman campaign that earned him the honor of being named the Northeast Conference’s Rookie of the Year after the 2008-09 season, Boyd began to experience symptoms resembling kidney failure. Tests revealed that he had a congenital (meaning it often occurs while you’re in the womb, no matter the cause) heart condition called noncompaction cardiomyopathy, a disorder in which the muscle in your heart stays soft and spongy during its development, causing it to enlarge and not beat as efficiently as it should.
Imagine that for a second — you’re a 6’7 19 year-old who’s played basketball all your life, you moved to New York City from San Antonio (Boyd’s hometown), got used to college life and a NYC existence, played excellent basketball for a season, then you’re told by doctors that you can’t do anything because you have a heart disease that could kill you, even though you haven’t had any cardiac symptoms. And the disease they say you have? It’s only been described since 1984, it happened before you were born, and, as of the most reliable data, it happens to literally one in a million people.
After sitting for a season and wondering if he’d ever play basketball or if his life would ever be the same again, doctors cleared him this past summer. And, as if it really mattered in the grand scheme, Boyd has played well, averaging 11.7 PPG and 8.4 RPG in only 24.7 MPG so far. His efforts on the glass have him well within the top 100 in the nation in both rebounds per game and rebound rate. The best part of the linked WSJ article, though, details the relationship between Boyd and his coach at LIU, Jim Ferry, a man who unfortunately has some experience with matters of this kind.
So, congratulations to Julian for not just playing well, but playing at all. Your courage isn’t lost on us, and it’s obvious your coaches and fans feel the same.