as told to Yaron Weitzman
I was definitely scared when the doctors first told me about my heart. That lasted about a week. After that, though, I just decided to kind of let go of those fears and focus on what I could fix. I couldn’t rehab my heart, but I could make myself as healthy as possible.
I told the doctors to just treat me like a normal patient and not a basketball player, that for me, the primary focus was getting healthy and being there for my family. But eventually, they told me that I could start playing again, that all I had to do was continue to get healthier. After that it was up to me.
When I first came back, I was really hesitant. I mean, I literally did not play any basketball all summer long. I shot some foul shots, but I wasn’t allowed to sweat. Then I talked to the trainers about where I was. They said, “Channing, you’re not going to know what you’re able to do unless you push yourself.” I realized then that I had to let go of these fears that I had.
Now I make sure that I’m eating and drinking right—I can’t have those 5-hour Energy drinks or a lot of coffee—and that I’m just completely prepared and anxiety free before games. Doing that keeps me from worrying once the game starts; I’m just letting things come to me and not trying to control everything. My preparation has been the thing I’ve changed the most, and now I feel pretty damn good.
I’m just taking it easy, embracing and appreciating everything, soaking it all in. I mean, I wasn’t even sure that I was going to make it back to the team, for training camp or even at all. Now I’m part of a team that’s playing great basketball, and playing basketball the right way, and I’m loving it.