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  • Edition: Reprint
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  • Copyright: 2009-09-29
  • Publisher: ESPN
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Resilience. It's not just the title of Alonzo Mourning's stirring memoir; it's the stuff he's made of. Whether petitioning himself into foster care as an eleven-year-old, tirelessly studying his way onto the dean's list at Georgetown University, making it as an all-star center in the NBA, or returning to peak form after organ-transplant surgery, Mourning has shown enormous inner strength. His faith, his determination, and his courage are what have driven and sustained him throughout his extraordinary life. In 2000, Mourning was on top of the world: He had a fat new contract, an Olympic gold medal, and a second beautiful childall that and the fame and wealth he had earned playing the game he loved. But in September of that year, he was diagnosed with a rare and fatal kidney disease. Over the next couple of years, as his health faltered, he retired, unretired, and retired againand sought to make sense of the rest of his life. Finally in 2003, after a frantic search for a donor match, Mourning had a new kidney and a new outlook. He vowed to make this second chance count by dedicating his life to others. He resolved that he would consider the disease a blessing, a revelation of God's plan for him. Although he battled his way back to the NBA, winning a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006, Mourning believed that the most important and fulfilling part of his life still lay ahead. Basketball, it turned out, was just the vehicle that would allow him to devote his talents and energies to a greater cause. Alonzo Mourning's return to basketball glory, already familiar to sports fans and non-sports fans alike, has inspired millions of patients suffering from kidney disease and living with dialysis, as well as organ donors around the world. By sharing his experiences of the physical, emotional, and spiritual roller coaster of illness and recovery, Mourning hopes to deliver a message of faith and fire, hurdles and hope, trust and triumph. Resilience is a story about the meaningful everyday lessons that he longs to share and about the things that truly matter in life. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography

Alonzo Mourning was a seven-time NBA all-star and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year during his eleven-year career. He won a gold medal for the United States at the 2000 Olympics and an NBA championship with the 2006 Miami Heat, where he is that franchise’s all-time leading scorer. He was also a three-time All America at Georgetown, where he earned a degree in sociology. Mourning is a national spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation and operates Alonzo Mourning Charities, including Zo’s Fund for Life. He, his wife, and their two children live in Coral Gables, Florida.

Named “America’s Best Sports Writer” in 2006 by Salon.com, Dan Wetzel is an award-winning columnist for Yahoo! Sports, the most read sports site on the Web, and is a regular guest on sports radio shows around the country. He is the co-author of three books, including Glory Road (with Don Haskins), which became a major motion picture.

From the Hardcover edition.



The kid wouldn’t eat. Not a bite. There was nothing his father could do. Doctors, nurses, and even fellow patients tried and got nowhere. For almost two weeks, no food. “I think he was giving up,” said Brian Mossbarger of his ten-year- old son, Zach. Of all the setbacks in a lifetime of setbacks, this was the most crushing for the father to watch.

And this from a dad who found Zach unresponsive at the tender age of three weeks old, rushed him to a small- town Ohio hospital, had doctors set up a medical helicopter to a bigger facility in Toledo, and was told, brutally, “Don’t expect him to survive the airlift.”

Zach did survive, but his was a difficult life. He was in and out of hospitals, doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, surgery after surgery, infection after infection. One thing and then another; every solution brought a new problem. He suffered from chronic kidney failure, and by the age of eight the self- conscious boy had scars all over his body and two six- inch tubes coming out of his neck to serve as a temporary catheter; then, at nine, he started regular dialysis. The schoolkids were predictably cruel.

Eventually doctors settled on a transplant. Brian, thirty- five, a tough machine repairman at an aluminum factory, was a perfect match. The trans­plant took place on Valentine’s Day, 2007, at the University of Michigan hospital. For nine days, the kidney worked. Then it didn’t. Vascular rejection, the doctors said; the worst possible kind.

And so Zach stopped eating. Doctors had to tube- feed him. “He thought the transplant would be it for him,” Brian said. “When it didn’t happen, he was really depressed.”

No one knew what to do, what to say. In a small- world way, they found someone who might. Brian’s older brother worked with a guy who knew another man whose mother, Shari Rochester, was Alonzo Mourning’s assistant. The story got to Shari and she told Alonzo, told him about the vascular rejection, about the not eating. Alonzo said, “I have to meet this kid.”

The Miami Heat were scheduled to play at the Detroit Pistons in a few days. Alonzo set it up so Zach, who hadn’t left the hospital in six weeks, and Brian could visit him at the game. A doctor came along, just in case. On April 1, outside the Detroit visitors’ locker room just before the game, they wheeled small, frail Zach in front of big, strong Alonzo, two transplant survivors, two kidney patients sharing a look of mutual understanding and respect. Then Alonzo knelt down and flexed one of his massive biceps at the awestruck kid.

“You want some of these, you’ve got to start eating,” Alonzo said. “I had a transplant too, and look at me.”

They talked some more. Took pictures, signed autographs, and ex­changed phone numbers. Then Zach got wheeled out to courtside seats and stunned everyone.

He asked his dad for a hot dog.

A hot dog? Yes, the boy needed to eat, but something as nutritiously empty as a stadium hot dog? The doctor shrugged. “Go for it. It’s something.” Brian got Zach a hot dog. Then a half hour later Zach asked for nachos. A large order, no less. Brian got Zach nachos.

Back at the hospital everything seemed to change. The kid ate. The kid smiled. The kid started thinking positive.

“He had been so down,” Brian said. “Then it all changed.”

Three weeks later, doctors tested his creatinine level–the key stat for all kidney patients, where the lower the number the better. Zach had been hang­ing around a too- high 2.1. The test came in at 1.6, an incredible improvement. Unbelievable, really. So they tested again. The creatinine was 1.6. Ag

Excerpted from Resilience by Alonzo Mourning, Dan Wetzel
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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