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Basketball player overcomes injury to fulfil dream

BIG CHANCE: Basketball ace Kofi Josephs

THE CASE of Kofi Josephs shows how you can never give up on your dreams. Josephs has been called up into Great Britain's EuroBasket 2017 squad. They are currently playing in Group D against Belgium, Latvia, Russia, Serbia and Turkey in Istanbul.

The Birmingham boy, who was first thrown a ball in a school playground, could represent Great Britain at a major championships after replacing the injured Carl Wheatle.

But there have been setbacks. Two hip surgeries put him out for nearly 18 months and delayed his hopes of a future professional career. Delayed, but not far off wrecked. The 25 year-old has a laid back idemeanour, but he hasn't always been like that.

"The injuries set me back originally because I didn't want to play anymore,” he said in a recent interview in Istanbul.

"I wanted to quit. I just thought that it was too hard and then I thought about my own future when I was done playing basketball. I asked myself "Was it worth it?””

"At the time, I saw Kobe Bryant's documentary ‘The Muse’ about when he did his Achilles . He'd done the rehab and played for around three months, then did his shoulder.

“He was like ‘I don't know if I can come back, but I just want to see if I can.’ I thought that's almost that exact same thing I'm going through.

Josephs and can thank icon Bryant Kobe, plus Mr Thompson. That's the teacher who got him into basketball in the first place after getting in trouble once too often at St Francis Primary School in Hockley.

"I didn't get into trouble because I was a bad kid, but because I'd do all the school work, get bored and then start distracting my classmates.”

"We'd just got new basketball hoops and my mentor, Mr Thompson, threw me a ball and I just threw it at the hoop. I didn't know what I was doing and it bounced and went in.

“I got excited and he calmed me down, kept passing it to me. I kept trying to throw it at the one spot and it kept going in.

"After that, during every single playtime, we'd come and we'd just shoot. I still remember Mr Thompson to this day.”

A promising career beckoned through Reading Rockets developed with NCAA Division 1 interest being shown. But at University of Arkansas Little Rock, the first injury arrived.

"I hurt my hip going for a dunk and this guy undercut me and I knew that it was serious because I couldn't feel the whole of my right leg for about 3-4 minutes. The feeling came back, but I couldn't move my leg properly.”


INSPIRATION: NBA icon Kobe Bryant

"I ended up doing ice baths and stretching and I played with it for around a year. I'd be doing my homework in the icetub at 10pm after practice every day, just so that I would be able to go to practice the next day.”

Surgery and nine months further rehab followed, while Josephs left to spend time in the NAIA and then eventually with Fort Lewis in Colorado in Division II. But injury struck again while Josephs was playing defense and more surgery loomed.

With a medical redshirt granted, three rehab sessions a day starting at 6am would be his life for the next seven months through summer school. His determination kept him going.

"I didn't go all the way to America to play college basketball and then not play professionally, but I knew I was good enough.”

"That was the happiest I've been on a basketball court, even up until now.”

"After all this, being resilient is one of my strengths. Being 6'6/6'7, I bring different facets to the game because I've played right the way through from point guard to small forward. I just go out there and play.”

"I said I wanted to represent my country and I didn't get the chance to do it in the junior teams, which I really wanted to do. Now, I finally get to do it. It's so nice setting a goal and achieving it, even if I thought they were a bit crazy.”

This interview appears on gbbasketball.com

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