IRVING, Texas — Shayla Dampier’s heart goes out to Paul George.
When George, a two-time NBA All-Star, landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion after fouling James Harden and suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg during a Team USA Blue and White scrimmage August 1 in Las Vegas, Dampier was amongst the millions of viewers who witnessed the freak injury live.
Dampier, a rising sophomore combo guard for MacArthur High in Irving, Texas, said that while she was somewhat bothered by George’s injury, his setback was, by and large, reminiscent of her season-ending injury last year.
“It was shocking to see somebody in the NBA have to go through something like that,” Dampier said of George, who is expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season. “You know, you don’t respect it. I just kind of cringed and was kind of in shock. After I watched the video a couple of times, I could feel what he felt like. After an injury like, I knew he would never be the same.”
For Dampier, who has been playing competitive basketball since she was seven years old, while she contends injuries such as the one George sustained customarily gives way a psychological effect on athletes, she believes players can still manage to perform effectively. Last summer, during an AAU game in Arlington as a member of the North Texas Strive, Dampier’s left knee buckled while converting a layup.
“I was mostly in pain and fear,” Dampier said of her injury. “I really didn’t know what it was.”
As swelling to her knee steadily increased, Dampier underwent an MRI three days later. Consequently, it was revealed that she had torn her ACL, thus sidelining her for all of her freshman campaign for MacArthur. For Dampier, the season-ending injury was too much stomach.
“I wasn’t too sure if I’d play again,” Dampier said.
Fortunately for the Seattle native, after undergoing successful surgery and months of rehabilitation, Dampier’s recouping comfortably from her injury. Nowadays, she has begun to partake in regular workout and conditioning sessions. While doctors have yet to clear her to rejoin the Lady Cardinals — who open the season November 25 when they Plano — Dampier is expected to be cleared to return to full, contact drills before preseason practices begin.
“I never thought that she wouldn’t play again,” said Lisa Cooper, Dampier’s mother and arguably her grandest supporter. “I just knew it was just a setback for a (comeback). I knew because of my faith, I just prayed about it.”
Days after her daughter’s injury, Cooper fielded an email from a close acquaintance about the torn ACL former UConn basketball star Sue Bird suffered during her illustrious tenure with the tradition-rich Lady Huskies.
“It was very encouraging,” Cooper said of the Bird’s story in which the current Seattle Storm star recovered from a torn ACL. “It showed (Dampier) that this doesn’t have to be the end.”
Which is, of course, among the reasons she is destined to make up for lost time in this, the upcoming season.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA’s Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.