WNBA star Diamond DeShields went from the top of the league to fighting to make it back on the court after a health scare in 2020 had her contemplating retirement after only 3 years in the league. Pure ambition and determination led her back, but only after facing a level of adversity that no one would ever imagine. Almost 2 years after this life altering situation, the Phoniex Mercury guard has decided to go public with her situation. In a piece produced by Holly Rowe and the team over at ESPN titled "The Comeback", we learn just how determined Diamond is a person and how her passion for basketball led her to a WNBA championship.
Drafted in 2018 to the Chicago Sky, Diamond was on fire as a rookie. She started 33 of the 34 games that season, averaged 14 points per game and was named to the WNBA All Rookie Team. In her sophomore season, she managed to increase her season's average to 16.2 points per game and made the All - WNBA 2nd Team, was named a WNBA All Star and competed in the All Star Skills Challenge beating WNBA star Jonquel Jones in the final round to be crowned champion. She scored a career high. 30 points against the Connecticut Sun and celebrated 1000 career points as a WNBA player. In her interview with Holly, Diamond says that she believes that she was the most athletic player in the world at the beginning of her career. She was playing like a super star and she helped shift the culture in the Chicago organization. Diamond was literally on top of the hill, making a name for herself, but what would happen next, nobody would suspect.
While playing overseas in Italy during the WNBA off season, Diamond was hit by a player during a game that caused her to have some severe back pain. After trying a few remedies to relieve the pain with no avail, she was scheduled for a MRI and the results of that exam would change her life. She immediately had to come back home to the States because her MRI revealed that she had a grape sized tumor on her spinal cord that needed to be removed. But ofcousre that was no easy task. Removing the tumor would pose the risk of paralysis and letting the tumor stay would pose those same risks, but if she wanted to continue a career in basketball, something had to be done. So in January of 2020, Diamond had surgery to remove the tumor and her uphill struggle to get back on the court would begin. After surgery, she was left with some nerve damage that doctors at the time could not determine if it would be permanent or not. Days in the hospital and a rehab facility post surgery proved to be some of the hardest times. Diamond suffered temporary paralysis linked to the nerve damage she suffered, full body tremors and uncontrollable pain, but she was determined to make it back to the basketball court.
Her doctors, close friends and the training staff with the Chicago Sky organization spent countless hours helping her rehab her body back to playing condition. It was no easy task. Diamond was going above and beyond, pushing herself to intense levels to get back to the one thing she knew the best. She credits the people the helped her and held her secrets for her return. She thought she was ready to play, so when the WNBA announced in 2021 that the season would resume during COVID in Florida at the "Wubble", Diamond packed up and was ready to play. It was very obvious that she was not 100% herself. She was averaging less than 5 points per game and she admits that it was rough to even try to play. She was not able to run in a straight line, her right foot was numb majority of the time, she struggled to keep her balance and wearing shoes was extremely uncomfortable. Things took a drastic turn for the worst when she took a hit to the hip that almost reverted her body back to her post surgery condition. She hit the floor and had to be helped to the bench by the training staff as her body went through intense pain and she began to have tremors again. Ultimately, the decision was made for her to return home and focus on her overall physical and mental health.
Diamond battled all of this over the course of 18 months, keeping all this information and struggle away from the public eye. Winning that WNBA Championship last year was not only a dream come true for the stellar athlete but a testament to how one's determination can help them overcome all adversity. To the fans watching at home, during those off moments she suffered on the court, it just seemed like a player struggling to get in the groove, but after watching and learning about what Diamond went through, we see that it wasn't her basketball ability that was in question, we were watching one of the greatest and most inspirational comebacks in sports history. Diamond DeShields is proof that you never know what someone is going through and that you can overcome adversity if you are determined and willing to put in the work.
Watch the full story entitled "The Comeback" here: