Stroke is only an obstacle
July 22, 2006
In his senior season at the University of Minnesota, basketball star Lou Hudson broke his arm in his third game. A cast was molded to his right appendage and he was forced to play with his off-hand.
"I still made All-Big-10 that year, with only one arm," Hudson said. "People in Minnesota still talk about that.
It is that competitive, unconquerable spirit that may help him overcome his current challenge.
In February 2005, Hudson fell victim to a stroke. The world-class athlete was caged. For a month he couldn’t walk or speak. Now some of his movement has returned and he can talk, but he’s still confined to a wheelchair. However, he treats it the same as he treated his broken right arm.
"I’m going to overcome this too. I’m going to ski the bunny slopes by winter," Hudson said, nodding to the views of Deer Valley above his log cabin home. "I feel broken and I’m going to mend. I used to jog twice a day. I’ll at least be walking around by winter."
Hudson once stood as an intimidating athletic figure a man that seemed to be immune to physical setbacks. His talent and passion to win gave him the nicknames, "Super Lou" and "Sweet Lou" according to the Atlanta Hawks Web site. Hudson was a six-time NBA All-Star and during the regular season of 1972-73 he scored over 2,000 points, a mark set by only two other players at that time. During his 13-year career, he averaged 20.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Hudson’s uniform has been retired as one of the greatest Hawks of all-time.
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Since his retirement, he has been heavily involved in charities. In 1992, he was named Park City’s "Citizen of the Year."
"I’m a friend of Park City," Hudson said.
He has been inducted into the African American Hall of Fame in New York, North Carolina, Georgia, and Minnesota for recognitions of his accomplishments.
Arthur Triche, vice president of public relations for the Atlanta Hawks, is one who believes if anyone can come back from a stroke, Hudson can.
"He has certainly the desire and the will to combat this and do whatever is necessary to come back," Triche said. "He’s a fighter and a tough guy too. He was always the jovial old timer. I admired his talents and he has strong desire to get into the hall of fame. I know he’s got the unfortunate situation in a wheelchair, that’s got to be tough for him and his wife. If anybody embodies that mantra of ‘don’t give up’ he does. He won’t give. He will be able to get back to the same old Lou."
Hudson runs various after-school programs that influence kids to achieve their goals and never give up. His program is called "Listen, learn and try."
"It’s learning about life skills and doing the best that you can. If you do the best you can do, you’re usually in a positive situation. Everybody can’t be a star, but you can be the best person you can be if you do the best with what you have."
Now he is forced to walk his talk.
"I ain’t quitting, there ain’t no giving up. I got more living to do," he said. "Failure is not an option. I’m going to see some setbacks but I’ll overcome them."
He continued his positive thinking, which could fill a self-help quote book.
"There’s still that competitive spirit as an athlete," Hudson said. "You find out what you need to do and get through it with enthusiasm. I could take naps rather than therapy. But it doesn’t go away with a wish or a magic pill. It’s a commitment to hard work. You got to work through pain and disappointment. All I can do is make the best of it. Obstacles are part of life, now I’m playing for my livelihood. I have to overcome this to get my life back.
"I work at this seven days a week. I don’t like being like this, I’m working to get back some levels of normalcy. I’ll probably never be where I was. One thing about playing sports is you have setbacks, what you do with the setbacks is overcome them," Hudson said.
But his primary thoughts don’t reside with selfishness. Even with his ailments he still thinks of how to help others.
"People did it for me, and now it’s my turn," Hudson said.
He lives by the motto, "Each One, Teach One" that he tries to instill in students. He wants to use his experience with the stroke as a tool for helping others.
"When I get through this, I’m going to go around the country and show others, especially those in my age bracket, that there is life after stroke," he said. "When you’re sitting around in a wheelchair, you want to get out. When you do, it inspires others also. How you do in life is how you handle challenges. I’m going to take this on and win. I like winning."