Five years after suffering a serious brain injury in a car crash, Vermont Catamounts player Josh Speidel has made it back onto the basketball court.
On Tuesday, the athlete defied doctors’ odds and played in a Division I basketball game, scoring the first points of his career, ESPN reported.
Shortly after Speidel committed to play basketball at the University of Vermont in 2015, he was in a near-fatal car accident which left him in a coma for five weeks. At the time, doctors told him he would require 24-hour assisted living care and would never be able to read above a fourth-grade level again, according to USA Today.
After making a remarkable recovery, Speidel’s team arranged for him to participate in Senior Night and placed him in the starting lineup against University at Albany.
In a heartwarming moment, Speidel caught the ball from a teammate and tossed it off the backboard to score his first basket.
“I did it, I’m a college basketball player,” Speidel told reporters after the game. “I scored in a college basketball game.”
He added, “It’s a dream come true to look in the box score seeing No. 32, Josh Speidel — it’s a dream come true, and I couldn’t be more happier.”
After scoring the points, the crowd erupted in cheers and Speidel received a standing ovation and hugs from his coaches, teammates and the Albany team.
The athlete joked that he thought about missing the shot at first so that he could fill up his stat sheet, ESPN explained.
“I was thinking of maybe missing it, maybe to get an offensive rebound in there,” he said. “But I figured I might as well go 1-for-1 and shoot 100 percent in my college career,” he quipped.
Speidel has made impressive strides since the accident.
While he couldn’t play for the team, Catamounts coach John Becker kept Speidel on his scholarship, and he is set to graduate with a 3.4 GPA.
“We’re so proud of Josh, just hanging in there and working as hard as he has,” Lisa Speidel, Josh’s mother, told ESPN. “He looked as good as I thought that he would in his uniform.”
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