MEMPHIS – Standing six feet, eight inches tall, Jacob Gazzo is new to Memphis, transfering to Briarcrest from Parklane Academy in McComb, Mississippi for one reason, to play tougher competition his senior season in preps for the next level.
However on June 14th, much more than basketball was taken away from him.
“I don’t even remember it”, said Jacob Gazzo. “So people just told me this. I stole the ball and I was running way too fast and I jump from like a little bit before the free throw line and tried to hang on the rim, and swing my legs up in the air.My hand slipped off the rim, and next thing I know, I woke up in the hospital, and that’s all I remember “, said Gazzo.
Jacob was rushed by ambulance to Methodist Hospital and an hour after his fall, he opened his eyes.
“In basketball in the gym, you see, falls quite a bit. And, you know, you don’t think anything about it. But after seeing Jacob, every time a kid hits the ground now you sort of hold your breath “, said Briarcrest head coach John Harrington.
“I just remember waking up and I was just laying there and I was like, I don’t know why my body won’t move it. It was just the weirdest feeling, and I just couldn’t move my arms, legs or anything. I just laid there,” said Gazzo.
Luckily Gazzo suffered no fractured bones and no surgery was required. However, he couldn’t move his extremities which is a common physiological symptom of what’s called spinal shock.
“And the doctor said, you know, he’ll get his he’ll get his movement back. You know, eventually it could be six weeks, it could be six months. You forget about basketball. You think about, hey, you know, will he be able to walk again? You know, will he be able to just have a normal life again,” said Harrington.
After a couple of days, Gazzo slowly regained some type of feeling in his arms and legs and after two weeks in the hospital his recovery process really kicked in.
” At the hospital the nurses came by and one day they were like, you’re going to get out of bed. And I was like, I just don’t think I can do that.And I lifted my legs up for me and they lay move my legs for me. They grabbed my legs. I just kept on pulling them down one in front of the other. And it was just so tiring. I got I had to take a six hour and a half every time I take a step”, said Gazzo.
After weeks in therapy, Jacob’s recovery had exceeded expectations.
“One day I just woke up and I was like, Oh, man, I can walk. And like, it was crazy. I was just like,I feel normal again. And then when they let me run, I just couldn’t quit running for, like, days.I was like, this is, this is amazing. Like, I was, it was I was just like a little kid just running again. It was awesome”,said Gazzo.
The two weeks Jacob spent in the hospital re-learning how to walk again he says it was the most difficult thing he’s ever had to do, but it brought him and his family together, along with his teammates and coaches.
“You just gotta always have your spirits up because I mean, at that time I mean, if I would have gotten down,
“I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.And our family’s so much closer after that time. It was a it was a horrible thing, but it’s kind of a blessing in disguise because we just grew closer as a family”, said Gazzo.
” Our prayers and our huddles and stuff like that. We always, you know, we thank God for how we’re blessed. You know, we’re not blessed to dunk, but blessed to run around and jump and have fun and and be teammates. You know, I think, you know, of course, with the Christmas season coming up, you know, we need to always, you know, thank God for our blessings”,said Harrington.
With a clean bill of health, Jacob got back to his game. In just six months after his accident, Jacob made his return to the court and that tragic fall a thing of the past as Gazzo made his first official start for the Saints in December.
” If the season ended today it would be a total success, total success”, said Harrington.
Gazzo also has his college hoops plans, locked in.
Gazzo has signed to play for Kermit Davis, part of the Rebels talented Class of 2023.