Losing a leg would probably be more than enough to crush most people’s visions of playing professional basketball in the National Basketball Association (NBA) – a showcase of many of the world’s most talented athletes. But not Myles Davis. Even though the 18-year-old lost his leg above the knee at age 10 because of cancer, he refuses to give up his dream.
Discovering the Cancer
Like many young people who ultimately lose a limb to cancer, Myles injured his leg in a “lucky” accident that led his parents to take him to the hospital, where his cancer was discovered early. In fact, the accident probably saved his life.
“The doctors gave my parents the option of amputation or putting a plate in my leg to stop the cancer from growing,” Myles says, explaining the gravity of the situation.
Since the plate would have limited his activities more than an amputation would, his parents chose amputation because they knew how much he loved sports and how intensely he dreamed of the NBA.
Today, Myles believes that his parents made the right choice. “I love sports,” he says, “and nothing’s going to stop me from playing, so I would have probably broken that plate in a second anyway.”
Still, when the amputation was performed, it was difficult for everyone, especially for 11-yearold Myles. “I was crying,” he says. “Everybody was crying.”
A Positive Spirit
Probably more devastating to Myles than even the operation itself was the fear that he wouldn’t be able to play sports anymore.
“I’ve loved ball since my dad first put a ball in my hand,” he explains.
Still, right after the amputation, Myles, like others who’ve had an amputation, was depressed and didn’t want to play sports at all.
“The situation certainly brought me down, but God kept me up,” Myles says, explaining that he was only down for a short time before bouncing back.
Shortly after his amputation, he received a prosthetic leg through insurance that helped him walk again. Though it was just a regular walking prosthesis and not a sports prosthesis, Myles was bent on playing sports and played with his walking leg over the years.
During his senior year in high school at Cherry Hill Academy in Inkster, Michigan, he worked at White Castle and played guard and forward on the basketball team.
When Myles tried out for the team, the coach was so impressed by his hard work and spirit that he chose Myles over a few other players who were better than him athletically. Yet, it wasn’t charity that led the coach to pick Myles, but rather a realization that these qualities can sometimes be more valuable than superior ability.
As Myles strove to make the varsity team, however, he felt limited by his prosthesis. That’s when he decided to convert his prosthetic walking leg into an athletic leg – on his own. And it did, in fact, help him play better – that is, until it broke during practice and his insurance wouldn’t replace it.
That was a major problem, he says, because he couldn’t play for a few months. After “moping around” for a while and worrying about how he was going to get a new leg, however, his trademark positive personality went back into gear.
“When I fall down,” he says, “I’ve got a lot of heart and can come right back up. I didn’t give up. The coach said practice, and I was there – even without my leg. I just played on one leg because I really don’t care that much what people think. If I did, it would hold me down for a long time.”
Myles hopped around on one leg as he continued to practice, even though it exhausted him and he knew he wouldn’t be able to compete that way. Even so, he was dedicated to doing his part, come what may. “I do what I have to do to make it to the NBA,” he says.
A Community Solution
Myles’ coaches were amazed by his dedication and told a television program called Problem Solvers about him. After the program aired his story and announced his need for a new leg, the Red Cross and various schools, factories and individuals in the Detroit area donated about $12,000 toward the $30,000 prosthetic leg that he needed.
Then, another wonderful thing happened: The Detroit Pistons – Myles’ favorite basketball team – came through with the remaining money (approximately $18,000) that was needed. The money and a plaque were donated to Myles at a special ceremony where he also had the opportunity to meet Chauncey Billups, his favorite Detroit Pistons player.
“They told me everything was covered and that I didn’t have to worry anymore,” he says. “I was crying and everything because I was so happy.”
Myles graduated from high school with a 3.1 grade point average and now plays on an amputee basketball team. A polite young man who answers questions with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir,” Myles hasn’t forgotten what others have done for him.
“One day, I want to go on TV or radio and thank everybody who helped me through my struggle,” he says. “I’m the type of person who, if I receive it, I’m going to automatically give back 100 percent to show my appreciation.”
Still, Myles knows that his struggles aren’t over.
The question has to be in his mind somewhere: “What if this happens again?”
“Uh-oh! There we go again!” he answers.
He also knows that the outpouring of assistance that he received to help keep his dream alive might not be available to others or even to him again.
“There should be a way for anybody who needs a prosthesis to be able to get one,” he says, knowing how not having the proper prosthetic care affected his own life.
“But I don’t believe in being negative,” Myles continues. “If it happens, there’s a reason, and I’ll just go to the doctor and see what he can do. If they can’t do anything, I’m still going to go for it – even if I’m hopping. You can do anything with the right attitude and if you put your mind to it.”