In the darkest times, when even great memories are hard to bear, character is what remains and stands above all else.
“You can find triumph in tragedy. It’s important to realize that even though you go through difficult things in life, you can be positive through them. And yes, they will try and they will be difficult, but they can also be for our good, they can refine us and make us who we are,” former Dallas Mavericks player Shawn Bradley said.
Who is Shawn Bradley, is a former Dallas Mavericks star, who at 7ft 6in tall, even in a league filled with giants, stood head and shoulders above the rest and willingly took his best shot .
“One of the things I’m proud of, good fans say, ‘Shawn, you haven’t backed down from anyone. If Shaq was going to dunk you, sometimes you blocked him, often not. But I tried to block it all out and if I got soaked, I got soaked, but if I blocked it, it was even better.”
Courage and a never-give-up attitude became even more important in Bradley’s post-basketball life.
After an accident, her world changed in an instant.
“I went from being a professional athlete and loving playing basketball and being active with Carrie and the kids to suddenly in a second not being able to do 90% of what we love to do in life,” said Bradley.
On January 20, 2021, just about 100 yards from his home in St. George, Utah, Shawn was riding his bike when a vehicle hit him from behind.
“The impact wasn’t serious, but I was pushed into a parked car. That’s where I don’t remember what happened next.”
“We rode the block to the site and it didn’t even work for weeks. I cleaned his bike and it looked normal except his handlebars had fallen off. By the time I got to the hospital , they had him in surgery within an hour. It was amazing,” Shawn’s wife, Carrie Cannon Bradley, said.
Incredible and unprecedented. Shawn had suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down and, due to his size, doctors were looking for answers on how to properly treat what is thought to be the biggest injury. to the spinal cord ever recorded.
“There are only 30 people in the world who are 7’6″ or taller, so someone with that level of injury and paralysis at my height could very likely be the first,” Bradley said.
“The rehabilitation part and even the intensive care once out of this operation, the beds are not long enough, they had to install things at the end of the bed, it was the custom from the start because what do we do? “
What Shawn and his wife, Carrie, did proactively focused on attitude, faith and positivity, prioritizing seemingly small victories that, in reality, represented huge progress.
“The other day it was as simple as leaning forward and trying to open a door in front rather than to the side and you would have thought I had just won a championship. Because that was a big deal. We look at these seemingly insignificant and small things that really aren’t that small because we learn new things every day and how to do new things. I put this shirt on today the best I’ve ever had. never put on by myself Usually I need help but I only needed a little help today But it’s a big deal for me, it’s a big deal for we.
“We wouldn’t have met some people we met, we wouldn’t have gone through things and places without the accident. We started taking selfies and I’m at 100,000 amazing story selfies and people we met. On tough days, we look back and say ours could be worse, or do we remember that happy time?” Carrie said.
Happy times that help him cope with the physical toll of rehabilitation, which he attends several times a week, but also help him with the equally difficult mental and emotional strain of his new situation, the grief of love that contributed to Shawn waiting over a year before finally being able to bring himself to watch the Dallas Mavericks play the game he loves in person again, by attending a game at the American Airlines Center in 2022 from its new perspective and new reality.
“Coming here to Dallas and watching these games, I just have to say, it was exponentially emotional. It wasn’t a ‘Woe to me. I’m sad that I can’t do that anymore. It was that I was excited to see the guys play, to see old friends and competitors,” Bradley said.
And while watching basketball again was an important step in his emotional recovery, and focusing on what he and his wife described as a “Candyland positive attitude” produced real results, the reality of the situation remains: life is now more difficult for Shawn Bradley. as he continues to learn to navigate his new situation, hoping that his character and never-give-up attitude will stand head and shoulders above these challenges, all the while remembering the times he ruled formerly competing in the NBA.
“When I dream, I’m never in a chair – I wake up saying it was a good experience, but now I have to deal with it.”
Shawn Bradley and his family are now moving from Utah to Dallas full time.
He says the Mavericks organization has been a great resource for his therapy and rehabilitation, and he hopes his story inspires others going through tough times to stay positive.