At 7'7" (7'9" in shoes), Kenny George had a huge presence on the basketball court. (That's him, making 6'9" Deon Thompson look like Mugsy Bogues) .
The 2008 Big South Conference Defensive Player of the Year was a shot-blocking machine who improved his game enough to start getting looks from NBA teams (like they say - "you can't coach height").
This past Summer, he returned from Pete Newell's Big Man Camp in Las Vegas with a skin infection. While it may have started with a small cut or an abrasion, the infection was caused by MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus) an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness. Complications from the infection led to the partial amputation of his right foot, eventually knocking this giant of a man off the court.
Life for him will go on. As his coach said, “There's much more to Kenny than just basketball" and I hope that he finds success and enjoyment in whatever field he eventually enters.
I also hope that YOU learn from this unfortunate story and make the effort to reduce your risk of contracting this serious disease, which can be found in locker rooms and gym bags. In fact, participation in contact sports (and yes, basketball is a contact sport) increases the risk of getting this type of infection. Sometimes Community Associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), can spread from teammate to teammate quickly.
So what can you do? As the Centers for Disease Control recommend, you should always:
* Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
* Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
* Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
* Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has this to say about CA-MRSA.
And last, but certainly not least, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a good webpage about MRSA at http://www.aap.org/new/mrsa.htm
Take a few minutes to go there, learn more about what you can do, and take the steps to reduce your risk of going through something like Kenny George had to endure.
MRSA infection changed his life.... don't let it change yours.