Part 1 (Justin Settles): Chapter 3    Look Beyond Setbacks

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Basketball has always been my favorite sport so naturally I had big hoop dreams. I really began taking the game seriously when I was six. I played whenever I could and as time passed my skills improved. Little did I know that a couple years later an injury would threaten my future on the court.

  

When I was eight years old I suffered a terrible dog bite while playing basketball at a neighbor’s house. It was dark out. I reached for a loose ball that rolled under his trampoline unaware that his one hundred-thirty pound Rottweiler was tied to it. Without warning, the dog tore into my arm. Its grip was tight as it wrung my arm from side to side. Blood gushed from my arm and spattered to the ground. My neighbor was frozen with shock and unable to call off his dog. I had to hit the crazed animal in the head to get it to release my arm, but by then the damage had been done. I hopped on my bike and rode home. A trail of my blood stained the sidewalk. It wasn’t until I made it to the emergency room that my adrenaline settled and I actually realized how badly I was injured. Layers of flesh had been peeled back to the point that bone was exposed.

  

The healing process took more than six months and required dozens of doctor visits and procedures. The gaping wound required 150 stitches and doctors told me that I might not ever regain full strength in my right arm.

 

Despite their predictions, I stayed prayerful. I did as much as I could to help the recovery process and slowly regained strength.

  

I made the freshman squad my 9th grade year and played on the junior varsity team my sophomore and junior years. After that I transferred schools my senior year and earned a spot on the varsity basketball team. My time on the court would be cut short yet again. After just two games I received a letter notifying me that I was ineligible to play the remainder of the season because I violated the athletic board’s transfer policy. This was nothing I had planned for and it forced me to reevaluate things. I stepped back and looked at my situation. I asked myself if all the training, practices, and sacrifices I made were for nothing. Of course not! All that work made me a stronger person and taught me valuable lessons I still carry with me today.

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