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Turiaf Writes About Heart Surgery, Fred Hoiberg And More For The Players' Tribune

by Kyle Ratke

Web Editor

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Anyone who has met Ronny Turiaf knows that he has one of the biggest hearts around. He jokes. He smiles. He cracks jokes. He lightens up any room.

But his heart might have literally been too big at one point, something that has been well-documented, but not always straight from Turiaf’s mouth… Or keyboard in this case.

Between the Chicago pre-draft camp in 2005 and the actual physical after I got drafted by the Lakers, my aorta grew. Everyone was just dumbfounded. Suddenly, my condition was life-threatening. Had they not caught it, there’s a big chance something bad would have happened in the next few years. I might have dropped, and there’s no coming back from that. At all.

Turiaf recently wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Derek Jeter’s website that gives athletes a way to directly communicate with the public.

He spent two years in Minnesota and averaged 4.5 points and 5.3 rebounds over 33 games. Those numbers aren’t overly impressive, but the fact that Turiaf was still in the NBA, 10 years after his open-hear surgery was impressive enough.

Turiaf’s surgery was successful, and he reached out to former member of the Timberwolves, Fred Hoiberg, who also underwent open-heart surgery only to come back as a player in the NBA.

A few weeks after my surgery, I reached out to Fred Hoiberg, who also underwent surgery for an enlarged aorta. His procedure happened three weeks before mine, and he walked me through every single issue I could ever encounter. He gave me moral support and told me everything was going to be okay. That meant a lot to me, because when you rehab from heart surgery, little scares come up all the time. There is so much to know and worry about, so every conversation with Fred was as priceless as the last. That’s why when I joined the Timberwolves in 2013, I chose Fred’s number. I’d always worn 21 whenever possible, but I wasn’t touching Kevin Garnett’s number, out of respect. So Clayton Wilson, the equipment manager, mentioned wearing 32 in honor of Fred, and we thought it was a great idea. What a wonderful rite of passage, and a way to honor someone who played for the Timberwolves and had such an impact in the Minnesota community. 

We won’t spoil the whole article. Check it out here.