LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - When watching a practice for the 7th annual Pineywoods Showdown, you may not be able to notice anything different about Markus Garrett, but when he takes a break, it is obvious he is different.
Garrett started his senior year at Pineywoods Community Academy in Lufkin as a typical healthy senior, but that would soon change.
"I had a long game of pick up basketball with some friends," Garrett said. "I went home and my body started cramping all over. I wasn't sure what was happening once it got worse."
Markus was taken to Woodland Heights but then transferred to Texas Children's in Houston.
"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.
"I went in knowing I had cramps, and I wake up two weeks later without a leg," Markus said. "I never knew it was gone until my mom told me. I didn't believe her, but she had to re-enforce it. Finally I looked down and I didn't have much of one there."
Markus would spend weeks in the hospital recovering from the amputation and would feel low until a special visit by Mark Barr, a paralympian for Team USA.
"He just basically told me that nothing was going to change,"Garrett said. "I mean I just have one leg. I maybe can't run as fast but my life doesn't change at all."
Once out of the hospital, Markus would return home to Lufkin and rejoin the Timberwolves. Garrett sat and cheered on his team at games all while working hard at practice for a return. Garrett would also return to other sports he loved. Garrett also participated in golf and track & field.
Garrett would finally get cleared for the last few weeks of the season, but he was still itching for more basketball. Huntington coach Shawn Jones would help that become reality when he agreed to let Garrett be a late addition to the Pineywoods Showdown roster.
"I got the call while I was at golf practice," Garrett said. "It was my coach and he said, 'coach Jones wants to add you to the team.' It was really exciting for me."
Before the team's first practice was over, Garrett had already won over his coach.
"Athletics is really a celebration of accomplishment in the physical realm and the emotional realm," Jones said. "That's what we're about. Here's a kid who had something thrown at him in life, and he is overcoming it and getting to participate in something he loves."
With four more quarters added to his final season, Garrett looks to go out with a bang. He is holding nothing back and wants others to do the same.
"I don't want anybody to take it easy on me," Garrett said. "I'm not going to play like I'm any different than anybody else. I shouldn't be treated like I am either."
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