Leader Blues

Friday, January 09, 2009

SPORTS>>Survivor’s tale

Leader sportswriter

The vivid detail and slightly twisted humor Troy Green uses to describe the fateful day in November of 2006 is astounding.
Perhaps most astounding is the fact that he’s still here to tell the story.

While today Green is fighting through screens and for rebounding position, the North Pulaski junior guard found himself fighting for his life two years ago, after he was hit by a car only days after earning a starting spot on the Falcons’ ninth-grade basketball team.

“It happened fast,” Green recalls. “I had got off the bus. I was walking across the street. I looked over, and the car was real far back. I started to walk across the street, because she was so far back.”

That driver was under the influence of narcotics as her vehicle approached Green, who was coming home from a typical day of school. That would be his last normal day for a while.

“She had sped up, and I heard the engine roaring,” Green said. “I said, ‘Lord Jesus, please don’t let this woman hit me.’ I was fixing to start running. I knew she was far back, so that meant she had to have sped up, so I was going to start running. By the time I lifted my foot up, all I saw was white.”

Green was dead at the scene when the paramedics arrived moments later.

“I was like, either I’m waking up in the morning and this was just a dream, or something bad just happened. I remember at first, everything was white. I’m thinking, yeah, I’m gone, but at least it’s white, that means I’m going to heaven. Then, everything turned black and I was like, no, no, no, turn it back white, I don’t like the black.”

Green said he remembers hearing the ambulance.

“This woman that was there told me that by the time the ambulance got there, I was laid out dead on the street. I guess they resuscitated me with those (defibrillators), and then they had rolled me over. At first, I just wanted to stay there, because it hurt when they started moving me.”

Green stayed in the hospital for more than a week, sometimes with as many as five IVs running into his arm. He sustained a broken collarbone, broken arm, and had ligament damage in his knee. He also had severe lacerations to his face and windshield glass embedded in his scalp, which took days to remove completely. He had to have two surgeries before leaving the hospital, and was out of school for the remainder of the year.

“They did 10 different things to me a day, and I hated it, real bad,” Green said. “But they got me there. I’m still recovering to this day. I still have to go to the hospital from time to time.”

The recuperation and rehabilitation process was long and agonizing for Green, who still suffers at times from the effects of the accident. Some light scarring on his left cheek is the only outward sign of the event, but he still has persistent aggravation in his knee. The accident also compounded an asthmatic condition he had.

“They told me I could go into rehabilitation,” Green said. “I had fluid in my knee, and they told me it would be a while. I thought that it was either going to be over for me my ninth-grade year, or I had to work four times harder than everybody else to catch back up.”

Green has yet to earn a starting position on coach Ray Cooper’s deep team, but his playing time is increasing. Cooper calls Green the most athletic player on a talented team. He is the Falcons’ fifth-leading scorer, averaging 5.3 points per game. He is also third on the team in three-point shooting and 62 percent at the free-throw line.

Green missed his entire sophomore season and is still in the process of catching up. Cooper said that process has gone better than he could have ever imagined.

“He’s lucky to be alive,” Cooper said. “Coming back last year, he missed a lot of the season. It was pretty much over by the time he started playing. This year, it’s almost like coaching a sophomore. He has a lot of ability, but he hasn’t played enough to know how he needs to play for the varsity level.

“It’s remarkable how far he’s come, and for as little basketball as he played, he’s doing well. He’s fighting through it. He’s got a ways to go yet, but it’s remarkable. He’s a tremendous athlete, he’s just got to learn how to play a little bit.”

His biggest game to date was in a blowout win over Joe T. Robinson, when Green showed the crowd how far he had come with a pair of dramatic dunks that sent the Falcons’ Nest into a frenzy.

Cooper said he has seen no signs of any lingering emotional damage that often accompanies such a traumatic event.

“T.J.’s kind of the same kid every day,” Cooper said. “He’s real easy going, real laid back. He just takes things as they come.

He’s got a tremendous attitude — just a good kid. I haven’t seen any difference in him from before.”

Green seems to have put it all in perspective.

“I feel blessed,” he said. “On the same day I was hit, a little girl was hit, and she wasn’t as fortunate as I was to make it and she passed away. So I feel like I’ve been blessed and been given the gift of basketball so I can further my life.”