Before the Los Angeles Lakers shut him down for the season, Brandon Ingram woke up with his arm feeling “kind of tight.” For professional basketball players, who are perpetually banged up by the time the NBA All-Star break passes, this isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary, so Ingram didn’t think too much of it.
But then he went to the practice facility and tried to do the same routine he does every day, and he couldn’t lift his arm as well, plus was feeling a pinch when he did. Worried enough to try and figure out what was wrong, Ingram went to the medical staff for tests, and found out he was dealing with a blood clot.
”I was kind of worried. I heard people talk about the Chris Bosh thing,” Ingram said, before noting that his issue ended up not being as bad as Bosh’s (which forced him to medically retire).
Still, it was a scary situation for anyone to go through, and Ingram said he needed the support of those closest to him to get through it.
“I think people around me kept me grounded. They kept me smiling, they told me everything was going to be alright,” Ingram said. “I’m happy that we caught it early.”
If the Lakers hadn’t done so, this could have become a much more serious situation, although Ingram said he was never worried that his career would be over.
“I’ve been through a lot of things in my life, where I didn’t feel like it was the end of everything I put in. All the work that I’ve put in every single day,” Ingram said. “I had to continue to fight. I just felt like I was going to have good results.”
Ingram has spent the months since just watching a lot of basketball and going back and forth to the hospital, where he was placed on blood thinners and had surgery on his rib to remove the obstruction that doctors believe was causing his blood clotting.
Now Ingram just has to be patient and wait to recover, which hasn’t been easy
“I’ve caught myself relaxing a little bit too much, just laying around the house. After the surgery I was pretty sore. I couldn’t pick up anything with my right arm. I’m still limited to pick up certain things,” Ingram said.
“The recovery has taken its toll, but from day to day I’ve felt better. I started physical therapy about two weeks ago, so I’ve been feeling better from there. I think the process is just moving pretty fast for me, I’ve been feeling good.”
Ingram said that everyone in the Lakers organization has helped make the process easier with their support, from his teammates, to the coaching staff, front office and other team employees. He also said that despite not being on social media all that much, he’s appreciated the love he’s gotten from Lakers fans online, as well as in person.
“I’ve heard from the fans out in the open, different people just telling me that they’re praying for me to get better and hope that I come back stronger. That means a lot, just because we get so caught up in so much negativity that just to see the positive, and see everyone around just saying positive things was good for me,” Ingram said.
Ingram is hoping he can reward all of that support by coming back even better than the already solid basketball he was playing prior to his injury, part of which he credited to adjustments in his own game, adjustments that most viewers could see made him fit in more seamlessly alongside LeBron James.
Those changes allowed Ingram to average 22.8 points on 53.2 percent shooting in his final 10 games before getting shut down for the season, and he said that strong stretch of play didn’t make his injury more discouraging. It just made him more hopeful about what he can do when he gets back out on the floor.
”It’s encouraging, I thought I was supposed to play that way the whole season. I think that it’s kind of set the bar for myself, Ingram said. “It’s motivation. I’m excited for when I can get back on the floor.”
It also impressed his more experienced teammates.
“I feel like they have big-time potential and are nowhere near even scratching the surface of what they’re capable of,” veteran center Tyson Chandler said of his young Lakers teammates. “Especially (Ingram) late in the season before he had to step out. I’ve seen some special things from him that I didn’t know that he had, to be quite honest. Me and (Rondo) would be on the bench sometimes and he would make a play and I would go ‘just wait until he gets a little stronger, and that’s going to be every time down the court.’”
Ingram said he hasn’t touched a basketball in over a month, and he’s chomping at the bit to get back out on the floor and prepare to do the types of feats Chandler and Rondo marveled at more regularly, because the whole health scare has just made Ingram realize how much he loves the game.
“It’s given me a better perspective on life itself. Without basketball, I have no idea what to do,” Ingram said. “When I get back in this gym, it’s going to be exciting for me to just pick up a basketball.”
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. All stats per NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.