Published Nov. 27, 2019, on

Brandon Ingram could hardly breathe. He’d try and try, inhaling deeply as he walked along the beach near his home in Los Angeles, but each attempt fell short. Stuck, somehow; a full breath just out of reach. He’d return home and continue to practice breathing by pacing up and down his four flights of stairs. But he’d still end up gulping for air, frustrated and confused.

And more than a little scared. Not being able to do something so fundamental, so simple, was jarring. How am I ever going to get back to being the player I was? he’d think. It was March. He had just had surgery for deep venous thrombosis, also known as a blood clot, in his right arm, prematurely ending his third season for the Lakers. The two-hour procedure included removing part of his rib, which in turn, affected his lungs. His breathing. Doctors had him use a machine that prompted him to suck in air, and a corresponding tube would shoot up and down, telling him how much pressure he could produce. “First week, I’m coming up short. Real short,” Ingram says. “I kept building up, building up.” It took about a month to capture his normal cadence.

But not much else felt the same. He felt empty, not dribbling a basketball every day. He spent the next five months rehabbing. At first, he took painkillers every three, four hours. His appetite soured. “I’m in the worst mood I’ve ever been in,” Ingram says. “I was just trying to get back to being me.” He’d watch highlights of himself playing to remind himself that the player on the screen was still him, that just months earlier he had finally broken through to play the best basketball of his career. (READ FULL STORY HERE).