SALT LAKE CITY, UT — While the start of the 2014 NBA Playoffs mark the end of another marathon of a regular season, the eyes of the nation were just focused on Massachusetts as the country honored the departed from last year’s bombings in Boston and celebrated its survivors.
The more than 200 surviving runners and spectators from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings are adapting to their new lives with a variety of prosthetic limbs, crutches, wheelchairs and rehabilitation; all of which will help to forge that bridge back to independence.
A former NBA Coach & Executive of the Year, Frank Layden (Utah Jazz—1984), wants to promote Adaptive Sports and the athletes who participate in them; with an emphasis on the players from the wheelchair division of the NBA.
“I saw it with the wheelchair players in Madison Square Garden in New York—people are curious,” Layden says.
In order to help promote Adaptive Sports and wheelchair basketball, Layden has narrated an audio book titled Doin’ Hard Work, featuring a name even the most die-hard NBA fans won’t recognize from NBA rosters—unless you are a fan of the wheelchair division of the NBA; that name is Jeff Griffin, of the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz.
“First of all, Griffin’s a bruiser, he plays hard and we all know that about Karl Malone. But, Griffin also gets in the face of his teammates if they don’t produce. He’ll get after them in the locker room or in a time out, just like Karl used to do … [Karl] was a fierce competitor, everybody knew it and if he was yelling at you, it was to make us all better.”
When Griffin’s injury happened, doctor’s told Griffin that he wouldn’t walk again. “I don’t believe them,” Griffin said.
What the doctors declared to be a medical impossibility, Griffin has turned into a reachable dream by regaining feeling in parts of his legs and can now actually move around with the aid of crutches. Griffin credits his love of sports, his competitive athletic activity and belief in God with helping him in his on-going recovery from the accident.
“What wheelchair basketball means to me is an opportunity to compete,” adds Griffin. “I was an athlete before I got hurt, I was a wide-receiver at a college … so when I broke my back, you know, I thought ‘What can I do now? How can I compete? How can I get out there and do what I love and have a passion for?’ I discovered wheelchair sports and wheelchair basketball is an opportunity for me to feel like one of the guys.
“A wheelchair does not define somebody,” Griffin says. “A wheelchair just gets you from Point A to Point B. The heart and desire in any athlete; whether you have legs, whether you don’t have legs, it’s the heart of a champion. And if somebody has that heart and they’re in a wheelchair, you’re going to go out there and compete and you’re an athlete.”
“There’s probably a lot of people in wheelchairs who probably sit back and feel sorry for themselves … I can’t blame them for that, I don’t know how they feel. I don’t live my life in a wheelchair.