When you look at Markus Garrett, the basketball player at Pineywoods Community Academy, you may think it's his prosthetic leg that makes him different. However, it's what you can't see that makes him special- his heart.
After suffering a severe case of rhabdomyolysis, surgeons had no choice but to remove the lower half of his right leg.
It started after a morning of working out, and then heading to the gym to play pickup basketball for hours with friends. What started out as leg cramps turned out to be much worse.
“It had started to spread through my whole body. My biceps were cramping, my triceps, my shoulder muscles, my pecks, everything was cramping up,” said Garrett. “I started to hunch over because my muscles were pulling me over.”
Garrett was immediately flown to Texas Children's ICU.
“There were nine different people in the room. He had 16 IV's going,” said Garrett's mother Allison Runnels
As a nurse herself, all Runnels could do was watch her son from the sidelines.
“It's very different when it's your baby laying there,” said Runnels.
Not only were Garrett's kidneys failing, the 17-year-old was also suffering from rhabdomyolysis, a condition where the body is severely dehydrated, and as the body looks to hydrate, begins breaking down muscle tissue.
With 16 incision marks left on his body to relieve pressure, and five surgeries in six days, the one thing doctors couldn't save was his right leg.
After two weeks of being under anesthesia, Garrett had to wake up without something he originally came in the hospital with.
“It just kind of struck me just like, ‘Woah, I don't have a leg,'” said Garrett. “I really love basketball, and I love this school, and I love playing for this school. I had goals already set before this had happened.”
While doctors told Garrett sports would be out of the picture, he as well as his coach knew that wouldn't be the case.
“Even though he had lost that leg I had no doubt that he could be back,” said Garrett's coach Brain Kruk. “Adversity didn't mean anything to him.”
Which Garrett proved, right when he got his prosthetic leg. The very next day, without walking for 160 days, Garrett was back on the court.
“When he walked in, he just grabbed a ball and started shooting around like nothing,” said Kruk. “He never said anything to me like, ‘Hey coach. I'm back, got my leg.' He just got right to practice like all the other guys.”
“I just slowly started running and doing drills all the time, and I got to where I am now and I can play,” said Garrett.
“He's always had a positive outlook on life,” said Runnels.
Just like everyone else, Garrett walks on the court, and plays the game he loves.
“When this first happened, I didn't think it was very inspirational that I wanted to keep playing basketball. I thought it was a normal reaction like, ‘Hey, if you want to do something, go do it.' Everybody has the power to do whatever they want to do,” said Garrett. “But overtime, now I've seen how many people are like, ‘Oh you're inspiring me. You're such an inspiration,' and I notice it now more than ever.”
“It's definitely been a journey but I think what Markus has taught not only himself, his friends, and family, but everyone he's come in contact with, to not let something knock you down. You can get up and keep moving, and that he's done a great job,” said Runnels.
Monday night was the senior's last basketball game, but the ending of one season means the beginning of another. Garrett said he will now get ready for golf and track.
Garrett has big goals in the classroom as well. He plans on attending Stephen F. Austin and entering their pre-engineering program. Then transferring to the University of Texas to major in petroleum engineering, all while playing basketball.
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