MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 10-year-old Minneapolis boy has been waiting for two years to get back on the basketball court.
Just last week, he got to lace up his shoes once again. What initially appeared as simply a swollen knee was actually the early sign of a severe staph infection.
DuJuan Simmons is now the remarkable survival story of a boy who never gave up faith.
While from the outside, it may look like any ordinary basketball practice, the drills Simmons completes bring him one step closer to his idol.
“Michael Jordan. When I saw him do a dunk on tape, it made me want to top that,” Simmons said.
Heart is something the 10-year old knows a thing or two about. Just ask his mother.
“When I come in the house, everybody’s doing their own thing. But DuJuan runs to me,” mother Angela Young said.
It was two years ago, after a basketball practice, when DuJuan’s mom noticed his swollen knee. She was told from one doctor to go immediately to Gillette Children’s Hospital.
“It didn’t feel real, it felt like my soul had walked away,” Young said.
“His knee was red and it was very warm, the circumference of his thigh was about twice normal,” said Dr. Deb Quandeck, Simmons’ pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
It was a severe staph infection that was spreading quickly. DuJuan went in for what would be the first of seven surgeries that would eventually kill the bacteria.
Now two years later, DuJuan is finally working on that dunk again. He’s left with a scar that tells his story and a gratitudee for his doctor he wishes to share.
“I appreciate her, and I hope God blesses her,” Simmons said.
It’s that undying faith, both in himself and that which you can’t see, that’s helped him defeat the odds.
“If you came to visit him, he would tell you, would you hold my leg and pray for me, and I want to hear you say it cause I want to repeat what you say so that God can hear us,” Young said.
One look today, shows God did. Doctors at Gilette say they don’t know what caused DuJuan’s infection. He was perfectly healthy and had no open wounds.
They caution parents, if you ever notice swelling in your children’s joints, get it checked out. They say it could be the sign of an injury, arthritis or possibly an infection.