NBA

A Deadly Infection Nearly Ended Grant Hill’s NBA Career and Life

Injuries are just a fact of life for athletes. If you play hard, you’ll get hurt. There’s no avoiding it. Some injuries are career-ending, however. Then there are injuries that can end your life. This is what Grant Hill faced when he was diagnosed with MRSA after his fourth ankle surgery.

Grant Hill’s NBA career  

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It’s rare to find an athlete that has had over five surgeries on his ankle, has battled MRSA, had a sports hernia, and still came back to play. Grant Hill had an amazing NBA career spanning 19 years and now has a very diversified speaking career.

Hill’s love for sports began when he was just a young boy. His father, Calvin Hill, was an NFL player for the Cowboys. After he had Grant, it was clear that his son was a highly skilled basketball player. 

Hill owned the court at Duke, breaking one record right after the other. He was then drafted to the Detroit Pistons in 1994. Everything seemed to be on the up and up for the young superstar, but a series of injuries would derail his career. But only for a while.

It all started with an ankle injury. Hill admitted in an interview with ESPN that he should have stayed off the court, but he couldn’t help himself. Hill made an early comeback before the injury had time to heal. This resulted in Hill injuring his ankle again a total of four more times.

The fourth time was when he was diagnosed with MRSA. Hill came back from his injuries, and retired in the 2012-13 season. He’s now the co-host of NBA Inside Stuff, and is one of the owners of the Atlanta Hawks. Hill is currently worth $250 million.

Hill’s battle with MRSA

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While Lawrence Tynes claims to have contracted MRSA from his training facility, it is believed that Grant Hill got it from the hospital. He was at home recovering from his fourth ankle surgery when his wife Tamia realized he was running a fever of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In a phone interview, Tamia stated, “He was in the living room and his teeth were chattering, and I thought he was just being overly dramatic, like he was a bad actor or something, but he was truly delirious. We got to the hospital and they took him in on a stretcher. It was bad, and I don’t think we realized even then how bad it was.” According to the Bleacher Report, there was very little information about MRSA at this time. 

Hill later stated that he knew something was wrong from the way the doctors and staff reacted. After removing the splint, the infection was all too obvious. His skin was red, and covered with black welts. It was fortunate that his wife got him to the hospital when she did because the infection had time to spread to the bone.

Hill went through months of treatment before he could play again. He would ultimately get another ankle surgery, but never contracted MRSA again. His teammates supported Hill by not discussing his diagnosis until he was ready to speak about it himself. 

Stop MRSA Now

To say that being diagnosed with MRSA was a life-altering experience is an understatement. Hill still bears the scars from it. Now he’s made it his life goal to speak about MRSA in hopes that other athletes avoid getting this very contagious disease. In an interview with Stop MRSA Now posted to his personal site, Hill stated:

“When I was diagnosed with an MRSA infection, it was hard to get information about the illness or even how to help prevent the spread of it.

This infection is becoming an issue in community settings across the country and that is why, as an athlete and a father, I am joining STOP MRSA Now to offer a playbook on prevention so that everyone can get in the game to help reduce the spread of MRSA.”