March 24, 2019 Currently: 72° | Complete forecast

A very, very close call

Summertime with Tark

Before he left for San Diego for the summer, Jerry Tarkanian sat down to talk about life outside basketball.

Wow. What a rough three weeks it’s been. I am still at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., where I was moved to its rehabilitation center last week.

I am in my hospital bed right now, and I’m just trying to put the bits and pieces back together about what has happened to me over the past few weeks.

I don’t know where to begin. I was in pretty bad shape, but I think I’m coming along pretty good right now. I practically died three weeks ago. I had no idea I was in this bad a shape.

We bought the summer home in Pacific Beach, near San Diego, in 1985 or 1986, when my son Danny was in law school, for the whole family.

We always look forward to coming down here and this summer I was really looking forward to getting down here, staying by the ocean and seeing all of my old friends at the Del Mar Race Track.

I came down with my daughter Pam and her family the second week of July. Danny has always been on my case about not working out enough. I’ve used my legs as an excuse – that they were so sore I couldn’t work out.

Danny kept telling me to get in the hot Jacuzzi, to do exercises in the Jacuzzi. So I went down there, did them once or twice and felt pretty good.

That’s where I broke two ribs on the right side. I fell in the Jacuzzi. Later that week I fractured my right shoulder in a fall.

Then one morning we’re talking a walk to get breakfast. I was right across the street from our condo when I went around a corner, lost my balance and went face down into the cement.

I had no idea what happened. I was out. The only thing I remember is, my wife Lois jumped on top of me. She wouldn’t get off. I kept yelling, Lois, please get off me! I want to get to the condo!

She said, No, you can’t move! Someone called 9-1-1 and an ambulance is coming! She wouldn’t budge. They said that saved me, that if I had moved I could have died right there on the spot.

That was July 12.

I’ve been in the hospital since then. I don’t remember the operation at all, but my entire family has been here. All of my kids were here.

They told me the odds of me surviving were very small.

What happened is, I had a great surgeon, the Michael Jordan of surgeons I guess. He pulled off a miracle. I was very, very fortunate.

My legs had been killing me for three or four years. I had no idea what it was. It was a bone spur rubbing against my spine. The surgeon said he’d never seen one so big.

If I would have fallen the wrong way, I would have been paralyzed or killed right on the spot, it was that close.

The two broken ribs are healing, and I had another surgery on my shoulder. I’m getting better, I think. They’ve done a great job with me here.

In rehab, they’re teaching me how to do a lot of things so I can be self-supportive. If I fall again, it could be fatal. So they’re teaching me how to get out of bed. I’m learning how to shower and clean up, learning how to walk again.

So many coaches and former players have called. I am so grateful. Ron Adams, one of my former assistants, has called. Tim Grgurich calls every other day.

Larry Johnson drove down to see me and spent a whole day with me. I’ve talked to Moses Scurry and Lloyd Daniels. Gary Graham and Jackie Robinson have called.

I want people to know how my whole family and I appreciate all the support we’ve been given and the prayers that have been said for me. We’re so grateful to so many people.

I’m getting better all the time and I might leave the hospital in a few days.

The key during times like these is your family. They’re so important. If Lois didn’t jump on me and hold me down, I would have moved that spine around and it would have killed me.

I am so fortunate. I’ll get better and write again soon, and thank you to everyone reading my blogs who has wished me well.

I’ll get back on my feet in no time.

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