Hoops scare

Freshman recovering after taking basketball to his head

Mike Mattson | Daily Press Manistique’s Logan Smith hopes to be back to full strength soon after being hospitalized in a freak accident in the high school gymnasium.

MANISTIQUE — Logan Smith exits his father’s pickup truck and slowly makes his way to a picnic table along the Manistique river front.

Smith, 15, needs a cane and his father’s help as he moves toward the table.

Once seated, the Manistique freshman talks about his love for basketball and advice from coaches for playing point guard.

“They said, ‘Don’t dribble too high or too low, just keep it at a medium,'” Smith said. “They said to be aware of everything and to keep your eyes open because you never know whenever a teammate will be open.

“Keep your eyes peeled on the court so you don’t miss a pass.”

On March 26 in the Manistique High School gymnasium, Smith turned his head and took his eyes off the court. And he paid for it in a two-month ordeal that left him immobile and scared.

What exactly happened on a normal school day?

“I was playing basketball at lunch in our gym and a ball got thrown full court, not intentionally, and it came down and hit me in the back of the head,” Smith recalled. “I was looking at one of my friends and (the ball) hit me in the back of my head. I was fine. I finished school and I went home.

“A couple hours later I started to feel kind of funny. I lost all feeling in my legs. I couldn’t stand up.

“We went to (Schoolcraft Memorial) hospital, and I got flown to Green Bay (HSHS St. Vincent Hospital) in a plane.”

Life changed quickly for Smith in those few hours.

Travis Smith said his son complained of a headache when he picked him from school that day. Later, Logan couldn’t walk or get off the couch at his mother’s house.

After some initial testing in Manistique, Logan was flown to Green Bay and observed by about five neurosurgeons, Travis said. They decided not to do surgery.

“I didn’t know if he’d ever walk again,” Travis said. “He lost all his bowel and bladder control. I didn’t think he’d ever come around. But he slowly started to regain everything.”

Travis said the prognosis from the blow to the head was likely a bulged disc behind Logan’s ear pressing on his spinal cord.

Smith spent nearly five weeks in Green Bay working with physical therapists before recently coming home. He’ll continue with physical therapy throughout the summer.

“Every day is a little better,” Travis said. “You can see the progress. His coordination is better and his steps are getting better.

“On one hand they expect a full recovery, but on the other hand, he could have balance issues the rest of his life.

A community fund-raiser and silent auction was organized and Travis said more than $3,000 was generated to help offset expenses.

Was Logan Smith scared by the ordeal?

“When it first happened I wasn’t too scared because I thought it was just a pinched nerve in my neck,” Logan said. “But once I realized what was going on a couple hours later, then I started getting more scared when I realized it wasn’t that.”

Smith has not returned to school this spring and will finish out his freshman year by taking on-line courses.

“At first it was hard to accept because we didn’t really know if I would walk again or not,” Smith said. “I’m starting to get better now. It’s become a lot easier to accept now that I realize I’m getting better.

“I figure I will be back to normal in a couple months, hopefully, if everything goes right. My therapist says I should be down to a cane for good in a couple weeks. It’s been hard, but it’s getting a lot better.”

Smith eventually can play basketball again, but can’t play contact sports like hockey or football.

And that’s just fine with Smith, who is a big fan of Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and New York Knicks’ Carmello Anthony.

Smith plans to return to school to start his sophomore year. And he hopes to keep playing basketbal l– keeping his head up and his eyes peeled on the court.

Throughout this freaky ordeal, Smith said he’s learned a few things.

“To not take things for granted,” he said. “Like getting up at night and going to the bathroom. People take things for granted. And now I realize not to take things for granted.

“Every time I think back, at night I would get up and go to the cupboard and get something to eat. Now it’s not quite that easy. I know what it’s like not being able to do anything.”