Anton Grady is using crutches and will return to Wichita on Sunday night with the rest of the Wichita State basketball team, his father said.
“Anton is on his way home,” Eric Cloud said. “He is progressing pretty good. He’s walking on crutches right now. He should be back to 100 percent, I’ll say, with two weeks of good rest. In two weeks, he should be back to full strength.”
Grady, in a release from WSU, expressed appreciation for support from fans.
“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”
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Grady, a senior from Cleveland, suffered a spinal concussion in Friday morning’s game. He was taken from the court, conscious, unable to move, on a stretcher to a trauma hospital. He began to regain feeling in his extremities by Friday evening. He continued to gain mobility Saturday and Sunday to the point he can use his arms for crutches, Cloud said.
“He told me ‘My legs are still weak, I’m on crutches,’ ” said Cloud, who lives in Cleveland and talked to his son by phone.
Wichita State players visited Grady in the hospital on Saturday after practice and seeing his teammates lifted his mood. Cloud described Grady’s spirits as improving quickly as his mobility grew on Saturday and Sunday. Nicole Grady, his mother, and an aunt, are in Orlando.
“At first he was scared,” Cloud said. “He couldn’t move his body and he was scared. He’s more up today than the last couple days. There was a lot of fear.”
Cloud said Grady wants to play basketball again. That decision can’t be discussed fully until he recovers and doctors clear him for physical activity. He began physical rehabilitation in Orlando and will continue in Wichita. WSU had planned for basketball staff member Devon Smith to stay with Grady in Orlando.
“He is planning to finish the season with Wichita, once he gets back to healthy,” Cloud said. “I told him to make sure he’s ready to go before you get back out there. He talked to the doctor and the doctor told him it was all right for him to finish playing basketball.”
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said Grady’s return to basketball is a decision for doctors and Grady.
“The good new is we get to pick up Anton Grady and take him back on the plane with us tonight and he can begin his rehab back in Wichita,” Marshall said. “I just want him to be able to go home with us.”
Before Sunday’s game, Grady texted teammate Eric Hamilton with words of encouragement.
“It’s hard,” Hamilton said. “I love Anton and that’s like my older brother. He’s always helping me out. Seeing him in that condition, just made me want to even play harder for him.”
Grady collapsed on the court with three minutes remaining in Friday’s loss to Alabama. Grady, while turning to run, collided with Alabama player Dazon Ingram. Grady took a few, stumbling steps before falling to the court. In a news release, WSU describes Grady hitting Ingram with his chin, causing his head to rotate.
Later Friday, WSU announced that a CT scan, for broken bones, and an MRI scan for soft-tissue damage in the spinal cord, were negative.
Cloud, a construction worker, did not watch Friday’s game. He received word of his son’s injury by phone. Coaches and doctors kept him informed and he talked to his son by phone.
“When I talked to him, he was crying and ‘Pops, I can’t move, I can’t move,’ ” Cloud said. “I was stuck. I didn’t know what to do. Then I talked to Coach Gregg and some trainers and they kept me updated on what was going on and I had a progress report.”