Over the weekend, ESPN’s Holly Rowe reported on the unbelievable story of the comeback nobody ever knew existed.
Diamond DeShields, the 2018 No. 3 pick who rose to All-Stardom in her second season, struggled to compete in the 2020 bubble as she appeared in just 13 games and came off the bench to average just 6.8 points before leaving early for personal reasons.
Outside the small group who it was necessary to tell, nobody knew that earlier in the year, on Jan. 17, an MRI revealed a “grape-sized tumor” in her spinal cord. The growth was benign, but removing the “schwannoma,” which represents just five percent of all spine tumors, took nine hours, six more than expected. According to Dr. Edwin Ramos, who performed the surgery, “one of the possible complications is paralysis, because we are operating around the nerves inside the spine.”
Though the procedure was successful, the nerves in DeShields’ spine were impacted, causing involuntary spasms throughout her body. Nobody was sure she’d ever regain full control of her body, and she considered retirement.
But DeShields worked both privately and publicly without us knowing. She had to learn to walk and balance again, but her motivation was to do much more. “I’m not trying to learn how to walk. I’m trying to learn how to run and jump and defend and do all the things that a basketball player is supposed to do.”
In 2021, DeShields was a part of the Sky’s championship run, and as she put it in ESPN’s video, “I could’ve quit. But I didn’t.”
The guard will make her debut for the Mercury on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET against the Storm on Amazon Prime.