Florida Gators redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball returned to the field this season after missing the entire 2011 campaign after a blood vessel burst in his brain and he was diagnosed with a hereditary vascular condition. Though he has opened up and discussed his courageous and inspirational story, Tuesday was the first time he did so in front of those that cover the team on a daily basis. Below are some of Ball’s thoughts regarding the condition he had, his recovery, what his family thinks of him playing football and how excited he is to be back on the field and contributing.
He has registered nine tackles (four solo) with two fumble recoveries as well as an interception, pass breakup and quarterback hurry through eight games this season.
» On the worst and best moments he has experienced since the episode occurred: “The scariest moment was when it was happening, the pain that I felt. The happiest moment was when they said that I was going to live, obviously.”
» Ball said it has gotten to the point that he no longer thinks about what happened, though spending an entire year not playing football was difficult both mentally and physically as he lost weight and stamina.
» On the most difficult thing he has faced in returning to football: “Just my body being beat up. I ain’t used to it like I was because I went years without not playing football and then I went a year without. My body is kind of beat up, but I’m still fighting through it.”
» On if his family is over being scared and worried about him while he is on the field: “I believe so. From what they showed me, they are. They showed me that they care for me, and they come to most of my games, so I feel like they still support me. […] They always ask me how I feel just them caring about me. That was even my freshman year before I got hurt.”
» On being nominated for the Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award: “I’m thankful for that. It has been some adversity. I’m just ready to fight and finish fighting through it.”
» On the highlight of the season up to this point: “Probably the interception against Georgia, but the loss kind of took over [the joy]. Us just having a winning season, just the turnaround from last season and the year before that. […] It’s against my home state. The loss, I kind of don’t even like talking about it because the loss kind of overshadows [the interception]. If you asked me that question again, I would have rephrased that.”
» On how the season is going so far for him: “I feel like it’s going good. I feel blessed. I just got to keep going. There’s some positives and negatives, but I’m just thankful for the opportunity. It’s coming along. It’s still coming along. It is different for me, but it’s coming along, like I said.”
» On if this experience has provided him with a new perspective on life: “Just because of the experience that I’ve been through, I just feel like I’ve seen a lot and I learned from it. Other people haven’t seen some of the things that I’ve seen. I just feel like, because of those things, I see things different, you know?”
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