Ricky Rubio, facing recovery from devastating injury, displays wisdom beyond his years
Rubio's attitude in the wake of serious injury is an example of what pro sports ideally would be all about.
Early last month, Ricky Rubio was on top of the world.
Just 21 years old, he'd already won fans worldwide with his thrilling play for excellent teams during a prodigious Spanish career. In the midst of his first NBA season, he was leading the long-forsaken Timberwolves to the cusp of their first playoff berth in nearly a decade. And he pulled the whole thing off with a fun-loving affability that made him one of the easiest professional athletes to cheer for in recent memory.
Then, on March 9, it all went up in a flash. In the closing moments of a sold-out game against the Lakers, Rubio's knee buckled as he planted his leg. The next day brought some of the worst news a professional athlete can hear -- his ACL was torn. With a long and uncertain recovery ahead of him, a career that seemed can't-miss was suddenly thrown into jeopardy.
How would you feel in such a situation? Some would probably sink into negativity and curse the fates for dealing a cruel blow at a moment of seeming invincibility. More likely, you'd do your best to keep positive, but still feel yourself slipping down the rabbit hole of depression while repeatedly thinking back on the moment of injury and wondering -- what if?
Rubio, of course, is human, and almost certainly has struggled to remain positive as he's mostly sat around, first waiting for surgery and now waiting for his knee to heal to the point where he can begin rehab. But it's impossible not to admire the wisdom he's displayed during the past month in his interactions with fans and reporters, including during a news conference yesterday at the Target Center.
Here's a timeline of Rubio's tweets, beginning with one posted the night of his injury, ending with a tweet from last Friday, when he arrived back in Minnesota after undergoing surgery in Colorado:
Tough loss tonight. Im gonna do a MRI tomorrow to see how is my knee. Thank you for ur support I really appreciate it.-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) March 10, 2012
Thank you everybody for ur support.I promise I will be back soon and stronger. There is only one way to take: move forward and stay positive-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) March 10, 2012
On my way to Vail to get surgery on Wed.Ready 4 da countdown.I'm dying to start my rehab.If u smile everything is way better :) #bepositive-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) March 18, 2012
Good morning! Im feeling much Better and better every day. I wish I could be at TC today but I can't. Are u going to e there?Cheer for me :)-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) March 30, 2012
I feel great! I'm back to Minnesota! Wow. I have missed MN.-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) April 7, 2012
For someone so young, Rubio's Zen-like perspective on injury and his recovery is truly remarkable. His wisdom was on display again yesterday when he told a packed news conference that all he can do is "be strong and do your best to come back even harder... I'm going to do my best."
He admitted he was "sad, mad" when doctors initially informed him of the severity of his injury, but said he was comforted by all the support that streamed in from fans and fellow players. "I just have to be positive," he said.
In the aftermath of a devastating injury, and facing an uncertain recovery, Rubio's attitude exemplifies a role that professional athletes, in an ideal world, would fill: the resilience to stay optimistic through trying times, the maturity to place an injury within the broader context of an often cruel world. I wouldn't have imagined it possible, but it'll be even easier to root for Ricky when his knee is strong enough to play basketball again. Whenever that is, we know his mind will be ready and raring to go.
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