(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Ingram Continues Recovery from Blood Clot, Surgery
What started off as a “pinch” under Brandon Ingram’s armpit soon developed into something more sinister.
Inspection by the Lakers’ medical staff in early March revealed a Deep Venuous Thrombosis — also known as a blot clot — in his right arm.
The news hit Ingram with some extra heft due to the recent saga of Chris Bosh, whose career ended at 31 years old due to a blood clot discovered in his leg in 2016.
“When I initially heard about it, I was kind of worried,” Ingram said at his end of season interview on Wednesday. “I heard people talk about the Chris Bosh thing. I think people around me kept me grounded, kept me smiling.
“… I didn’t have anything related to Chris Bosh, really. I think his was a little bit worse. I think in my situation I’m happy that we caught it early. It was planned out to where I could be healthy a little bit earlier.”
Ingram was initially diagnosed with a “sore right shoulder” in early March, and he didn’t foresee how the magnitude of his condition would grow.
In fact, he joked that he was worried that coach Luke Walton would razz him for being “soft” for complaining of soreness.
“When we were going through all these tests, I didn’t think it would be something that serious,” he said. “I just kinda woke up and my arm was kinda tight. Couldn’t lift it over my shoulder.”
A few days later, Ingram found himself at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent thoracic outlet decompression surgery — a procedure that involves removing part of his rib in order to excise the clot.
Ingram’s post-surgery activity has been minimal, primarily because the process required him to be on blood thinners.
“I’ve caught myself relaxing a little bit too much,” Ingram laughed. “Just laying around the house after surgery.”
Lethargy is a new feeling for Ingram, who prides himself on his dedication to basketball, often saying that he has few, if any, hobbies outside of the game.
Ingram — who said he spends eight hours a day working on hoops — hasn’t even picked up a basketball in over a month.
“I couldn’t pick up anything with my right arm,” Ingram said. “I’m still limited to pick up certain things. I couldn’t breathe really well. Every time I sneezed and coughed, I felt it in my chest and in my back. The recovery has took its toll.”
Ingram’s support system has been his key during this trying time.
He credits his teammates for surrounding him with positivity; his coaching staff for making him “a tougher person, tougher basketball player every single day”; and Lakers fans for wishing him a successful recovery when they see him in public.
“We get so caught up in so much of the negativity,” Ingram said. “Just to see the positives and see everyone around us saying positive things, I think that was good for me.”
When Ingram — who is expected to make a full recovery before the start of next season — does return, he’ll look to regain the star form he was playing in before the clot.
In six games post-All-Star Break, the 21-year-old absolutely dominated, averaging 27.8 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 57.0 percent from the field.
To Ingram, it was as simple as learning to stop overthinking his approach.
“During the whole season it was different changes of mind sets of how I could be effective on this team, how I could fit in, whatever it was,” Ingram said. “Then I just tried to just go in the game and play basketball. Play basketball and go have fun. Nothing was [forced] with what I was doing.”
One of the youngest players in his draft class, Ingram is far from a finished product. While he thrived on attacking the basket and splashing fadeaways, the North Carolina native still has plenty of room to grown when it comes to his physique and shooing.
“I’ve seen some special things that I didn’t know he had,” 17-year veteran Tyson Chandler said. “… Sometimes he’d make a play and I’d think, ‘Just wait until he gets a little stronger and it’s going to be every time he gets down the court.”
Although Ingram’s blood clot cost him the final 29 games of the season and an uncertain amount of his offseason, it has brought him a greater appreciation for where he is as a person.
“It’s given me a better perspective on life itself,” Ingram said. “Without basketball, I’d have no idea what to do. It just brings a little added motivation. Don’t take for granted things.
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