Five years ago, a car accident put Indiana high school basketball star Josh Speidel in a coma and left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Before the accident, the 6-foot-7 Speidel was a 3-star recruit committed to play in college at Vermont.
Instead of competing for playing time in Burlington, Speidel was left trying to re-learn how to walk, read and talk, according to the Burlington Free Press. It was only after an incredible recovery that Speidel was able to enroll at Vermont, with a scholarship still waiting for him.
Speidel became part of the basketball team, but didn’t appear in any games. It was his dream to change that, however improbable it might be.
“I always told myself I was going to get back,” said Speidel. “I was going to play one day. I came to the realization a couple years ago that, alright, I'm not going to get back to where to where I was. So how do I want to leave here, Vermont? How do I want to want to leave my time with basketball?"
On Tuesday, Josh Speidel — now a senior — entered a basketball game and scored in the first minute of Vermont’s senior night.
The basket was the result of a trade where Albany was allowed a free basket after tip-off, followed by a possession where every member of the Catamounts touched the ball until it reached a driving Speidel for a lay-up.
“I'll be overblown with emotion, gratitude, finally realizing that I'm out there,” Speidel said, according to WTHR. “College basketball, my dream — I'm doing it.”
The basket isn’t the only inspiring part of Speidel’s story. Per WTHR, the student who doctors said would not be able to reach beyond a fourth-grade reading level will graduate from Vermont in May with a 3.4 GPA. With his individualized degree in education, Speidel wants to work with children through sports.
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