Wolves guard Price has overcome physical, personal struggles

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2013 - 6:46 AM

The former UConn star survived brain surgery, self-induced trouble.

 

Timberwolves brass has two choices when the final roster spots are filled before opening night, decisions that, barring a trade or free-agent signing, will force Flip Saunders and Rick Adelman to decide between veteran savvy and rookie potential.

If it is life experiences they want, fifth-year guard A.J. Price has them and maybe then some.

Price was invited to training camp partly because of his connection with new Wolves General Manager Milt Newton from the season they spent together in Washington a year ago, partly because of three seasons with the Pacers and one with the Wizards. And partly because of two transformational years in college when he went two seasons without basketball because of complicated brain surgery and his own decisions.

At age 27, he is trying to stay in the NBA with an opportunity he admits was the only real one that didn’t involve playing overseas. He is competing with fellow veteran Othyus Jeffers and rookies Lorenzo Brown and Robbie Hummel for the team’s final two jobs because of what Adelman calls his professionalism and Price himself attributes to life’s lessons learned.

Price missed two collegiate seasons after his freshman year at Connecticut when he was diagnosed with a condition that entangles brain arteries and veins and required that surgery he credits with saving his life after his brain hemorrhaged. While he recovered, Price and a teammate were suspended by the school for a season for their involvement in trying to sell stolen laptop computers.

He attributes both experiences nearly a decade ago to changing his life, each for the better for a former nationally recruited prep star who won New York state high school championships.

“Each of them, they humbled me like I can’t even express, more than anyone can imagine,” said Price, who is named Anthony Jordan after his father, who briefly played in the NBA, and another NBA player named Michael. “I almost lost my life, changed my life, made me into the person I am today.”

Looking back, he attributes working harder physically than he ever had in his life during his freshman year at UConn to triggering a condition called arteriovenous malformation — an abnormality he says he was born with — that can cause brain arteries and veins to burst.

One night, he played video games, went to bed in his dorm room and didn’t get up until the school sent a trainer over five days later. He spent those five days in a state he compares to “blackout drunkenness.” He said his friends and dorm mates just thought he was ill with the flu.

“I still don’t remember two weeks of my life,” he said. “Friends came to my room and I didn’t recognize them. This is what people told me afterward. I don’t remember any of it.”

He was taken to UConn’s infirmary, then helicoptered to one hospital and transported to another in Hartford, where a CAT scan of his brain finally revealed the condition. Four months later, he underwent surgery at a Boston hospital.

Through it all, he lost 30 pounds and couldn’t return to a court for another 15 months after surgery.

“I didn’t play basketball for two years,” he said. “I couldn’t work out. I couldn’t lift a weight. It was extremely difficult because basketball, that was all I knew. I’m grateful. I got through it. God is great and I’m still here. I’m able to play the game I love.”

Six months into his recovery, he was arrested for his involvement with the stolen laptops.

“I was 18, it was a stupid, boneheaded mistake,” Price said. “Even though as stupid and embarrassing as it was to me and my family, it’s something I wouldn’t take back because it definitely prepared me for life after that. It helped me see the bigger picture, definitely humbled me. I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened to me.

“If that hadn’t happened to me at 17 or 18, who’s to say something wouldn’t have happened at 25 or 26 that would have been much more destructive to my career. It happened at a young age. I got through it. I got over it. I got better from it.”

His brain surgery gives him some common ground with Wolves teammate Ronny Turiaf, who underwent a six-hour open-heart surgery when he was 22.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
UCLA 72
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which is your favorite 'return' by a Minnesota athlete?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close