One of the cooler stories we posted last year involved the emergence of the ridiculously oversized 7’7, 360 -lb Kenny George at UNC-Asheville. He gained notoriety for his well-publicized duel with UNC and Tyler Hansbrough early last season (dropping 14/11 on UNC in a relatively close loss), and we kept an eye on him the rest of the year. Led by George’s 12/7/3 blks on nation-leading 69% FG shooting, UNCA had its best season in a generation, winning 23 games and the Big South’s regular season championship. We were rooting very hard for the Bulldogs to make the NCAAs, but they got upset in the Big South title game by conference stalwart Winthrop. Notwithstanding the comical interest we had in George based on his cartoonishly freakish features, we also wanted to see him succeed due to the chronic injuries that a person his size has sustained (multiple knee problems resulting in several missed seasons). Now comes the sad news that George underwent surgery in September for a staph infection that reportedly resulted in the amputation of part of his right foot, and is definitely out this season (if not for good). From the AP report:
The source said the amputation, which occurred three weeks ago, was the result of George’s battle with MRSA, a difficult-to-treat and sometimes life-threatening antibiotic-resistant staph infection. In August, George returned to his Chicago home from Pete Newell’s Big Man Camp in Las Vegas with an infection in his foot. Doctors there suggested that George immediately see a specialist. He’s been hospitalized in Iowa since then, the source said, enduring several surgeries and at one time battling for his life. He’s expected to remain in the hospital for at least another month. “This is a terrible setback for his basketball life but there is so much more to him than basketball,” [UNCA coach Eddie] Biedenbach said. “The students at this school think the world of Kenny George outside of basketball. We’re looking forward to him coming back second semester — that’s what he wants to do — and complete his degree. At that point, we’d still like him to be a part of our basketball program and part of this school.”
We’re Really Rooting For The Big Guy (photo credit: Inside Carolina)
We love Biedenbach’s positivity here, and we’re certainly not a member of the medical profession, but we have to believe that having a partial foot amputation effectively ends George’s basketball career. We love the underdog stories (inasmuch as George could be considered an under-anything), but this is really disheartening news, and we’ll just leave it at that (along with a couple of ESPN features on George from last year).