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Friday, April 20, 2018

Knee to the Groin Reveals Cancer, Saves Taylor Statham’s Life

When 18-year-old Taylor Statham took a knee to the groin during a prep school basketball game last October, it felt like any other shot to the stones: It hurt.  Statham rolled around on the court floor in pain when the incident occurred and the swelling in his groin lingered for a few weeks.  Thank goodness for that.

When we feature nut-shot stories here on LBS, the context is usually light-hearted and joking like the Novak Djokovic prank, Chandler Parsons taking one from a teammate, or Brett Favre experiencing an incident during practice.  This particular knee to the groin, however, is hardly a laughing matter.  In fact, it saved Statham’s life.

As The Dagger shared with us on Wednesday, Statham decided to visit his doctor after he took a blow to the groin from teammate Dushon Carter during practice last year.  The 6-foot-6 center was attempting to incorporate taking charges into his game to make himself more appealing to Division I programs.  Upon visiting the doctor, it was revealed that Statham had an aggressive form of malignant testicular cancer.  Had he been examined a few months later, the doctor told Taylor it may have been too late to beat the cancer.

“They said if I would have waited a few months to come in or if I wouldn’t have known, it would have spread throughout my body,” Statham said. “It’s funny because in high school my coaches always told me to try to take charges instead of blocking shots, and I’d never do it. I finally started taking charges last year to get ready for college, and it saved my life.”

After two six-week chemotherapy sessions that resulted in the loss of hair and 35 pounds, Statham was pronounced cancer-free.  The cut-throat nature of Division I college athletics resulted in all the teams that were interested in his services disappearing from the picture, but Statham earned a tryout with soon-to-be Division II Cal Baptist.

Taylor spent hours per day perfecting his game before the cancer treatment and hours trying to get back to where he had been after the treatment was over.  In fact, he even got back to work before his last chemotherapy session, despite his doctors urging him to wait a few weeks before playing basketball.  In limited during a travel league game, Statham scored 25 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists.

“I kept telling him to take a break, and he’d keep telling me to put him back in because he wanted to play,” Statham’s coach, Jose Rodriguez, recalled. “He was weak, but he was doing it. That told me he was hungry. Most kids would have stayed home, but he wanted to play in college that badly.”

Statham shook the hand of the teammate who kneed him in the groin during practice and said he plans to buy him dinner if the two ever see each other again.  Coaches everywhere who are trying to get their players to sacrifice their bodies and take a charge now have another motivational tool to work with: It might save their life.

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