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Recruit Who Suffered Brain Injury Scores in First College Game

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After enduring traumatic brain injury in a car accident during high school, Josh Speidel finally got to play college basketball.

In a prearranged moment last week, Speidel scored on his team’s first possession against Albany.

“I did it, I’m a college basketball player,” Speidel told ESPN. “I scored in a college basketball game. You can’t take that away from me. I’m just so forever grateful.”

Speidel was a highly touted, three-star high school recruit and one of Indiana’s best basketball players in 2015.

He averaged 25.6 points and 9.3 rebounds for Columbus North High School during his senior year.

During that season, he was already the school’s all-time leading scorer and was offered a scholarship to play for the University of Vermont.

Everything changed on February 1, 2015, when Speidel was involved in a serious car accident, leaving him in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury. He spent five weeks in a coma, according to ESPN. His parents were told by doctors that he’d probably remain in a vegetative state and never read above a fourth-grade level.

Though Speidel had to learn to live and walk again, he’d never play basketball.

Despite the setback, his coach offered a noble act:  keep Speidel on scholarship.

Speidel joined Vermont several times last season and even sat on the bench for a few games.

After making his first Division I start and scoring the first points of his collegiate career, his parents beamed.

“When we walked into the gym, it felt like everything we’d imagined it would feel like,” Lisa Speidel, his mother, told ESPN. “We’re so proud of Josh, just hanging in there and working as hard as he has. He looked as good as I thought that he would in his uniform.”

Following Speidel’s brief debut, he hugged players and coaches from both teams.

“We want people to have hope,” Lisa told ESPN. “Just that reminder, you know, don’t give up.”

This year, Speidel will graduate with a 3.4 GPA, according to ESPN.

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