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The Predators
08-16-2018, 04:56 AM
Post: #1
The Predators
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Ryan Shazier's routine hasn't changed much Kirk Gibson Jersey , even after a life-altering spinal injury put his football career in jeopardy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker still arrives at the team facility around 7 a.m. He still watches copious amounts of film. He still works out regularly, often with his teammates alongside. And he still believes one day he will run out of the Heinz Field tunnel in full uniform despite the many obstacles he understands are in his path.

"My dream is to come back and play football again," Shazier said on Wednesday in his first wide-ranging public remarks since undergoing spine stabilization surgery last December. "I'm working my tail off every single day; have (playing again) in the back of my mind every single time I go to rehab."

Shazier walked into the media room with help of a cane and spent 20 minutes outlining his journey since he lowered his head to hit Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone in the first quarter on Dec. 4. He called the moment after impact when he grabbed the small of his back while his legs lay motionless "a little scary," but was quick to thank emergency responders in Cincinnati for their delicate work on the field in the immediate aftermath.

He underwent spine stabilization surgery on Dec. 6 and has spent the intervening months remaining adamant he would play again while being a fixture at the team's practice facility, where he has become a de facto coach. It's a role he's embracing, but one he's not quite ready to accept on a full-time basis.

"Just because I got hurt doesn't mean I'm going to stop loving the game of football," said Shazier, who added that despite the injury he's going to give it "everything I have" in an effort to return to play.

Details of the exact nature of Shazier's injury and his long-term prognosis remain sparse. He declined to get into specifics about whether playing again is even medically feasible, saying his medical team has told him to focus on making incremental improvements.

"Honestly right now, I'm not a doctor," Shazier said. "Every day I take it one day at a time. The further we get along in rehab, the better they can give me answers."

Shazier has made remarkable progress in the last six months. He spent several weeks in the hospital following surgery, though he took time out to attend several Steelers home games near the end of the 2017 season. He regularly posts updates through his social media accounts and provided an indelible moment during the NFL draft in April when he walked on stage in Dallas to announce Pittsburgh's first-round selection.

Though he's from Florida, Shazier has chosen to stay in Pittsburgh in part because it helps him feel like "I'm still myself."

He's received a massive outpouring of support from all over Cheap Mike Gesicki Jersey , including an avalanche of "Get Well" letters from over 500 students at an elementary school.

T-shirts emblazoned with his familiar No. 50 and the phrase #Shalieve 鈥?the hashtag Shazier made famous in the early stages of his recovery 鈥?have become fashionable across Pittsburgh with fans and fellow athletes. Several members of the Pittsburgh Pirates have donned the T-shirts after games as tribute.

"I've met a lot of interesting people, a lot of people I never thought I'd meet," Shazier said.

The Steelers placed him on injured reserve last month, ending any chance of a comeback in 2018. The team also modified his contract so that he would receive the majority of the $8.7 million he is due this year up front.

The 25-year-old two-time Pro Bowler believes walking without assistance is the next milestone, one he refuses to put a timetable on. He is trying instead to focus on his health, how to best help the Steelers even if he can't join them in the huddle, while making sure to appreciate it that he's made it even this far. He understands some do not.

There is no guarantee Shazier will be able to run again without assistance, let alone throw on a pair of shoulder pads. It's something he'll live with if he has to. Yet he owes it to himself to try.

"I'm fine with whatever outcome comes with it," he said. "I try to stay as positive as possible."

Moritz Wagner grew up in Berlin dreaming of an NBA career, and he went all the way to Michigan to chase it.

The German big man will get his chance with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers chose Wagner with the 25th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, adding the versatile center as the next piece in their talented young core.

The 6-foot-11 Wagner entered the draft after leading the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament championship game. He led Michigan with 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, demonstrating versatility and a steady outside shot to go with his big-game clutch performances in the tournament.

Wagner worked out twice for the Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka, a fellow Michigan man. After getting the call from Pelinka, Wagner already knew it was Showtime.

”They obviously are a very flashy franchise Antonio Senzatela Colorado Rockies Jersey ,” Wagner said. ”They love to play fast. Coach (Luke) Walton used to play as well, so he’s a players’ coach, and he wants his players to make plays, be confident. They focus a lot on playing fast, and that’s something I’m really excited to do.”

The Lakers stayed in Europe during the second round and used the 47th overall pick on Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas’ Ukrainian outside shooting whiz. Although Pelinka wasn’t allowed to confirm it, the Lakers also are widely expected to get German teenager Isaac Bonga, the 39th overall pick by Philadelphia, when the trade can be announced next month.

The Lakers are focused on the free-agent signing period next week as the path back into championship contention after the worst half-decade stretch in franchise history. But before the Lakers find out whether Paul George, LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard will land in Hollywood, they added Wagner to their foundation of young talent including Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.

”We’re building a culture here, and (Wagner) brings a lot to the table http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/au...ker-jersey ,” Walton said. ”As far as the passion he plays with, his unselfish nature, the way that he spreads the floor, all these things that we’ve seen on film and that we saw live a couple of times when he worked out for us, we’re excited.”

Wagner grew up in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood of Germany’s capital religiously watching NBA games and even American college hoops. He admired fellow German Dirk Nowitzki, but really idolized Kevin Garnett.

Wagner played in the youth system of German pro team ALBA Berlin before Michigan coach John Beilein traveled to Europe on a one-day recruiting trip and persuaded him to head for Ann Arbor.

”I remember getting up at 3 a.m., watching the games,” Wagner said. ”Dirk (Nowitzki) had a huge impact on that, just being a player that made it, a player that did incredible things in the league, and also being a player that was under the radar for a long time, and just this skinny kid from Germany, similar to me. That dream is very, very far away when you’re over there D.J. Fluker Jersey Seahawks , so it’s exciting to be here.”

He was joined at the draft by his parents, several German friends and the Michigan coaching staff.

Wagner is already familiar with Staples Center after leading Michigan to two victories in the arena during the West Regional last March. He dropped 21 points on Texas A&M and fellow first-round pick Robert Williams at the Lakers’ home arena before cutting down the Staples nets after scoring 12 points in a victory over Florida State in the West Regional final.

The Lakers traded away their own first-round pick in this draft, the 12th overall, in their deal with Phoenix six years ago to acquire Steve Nash in their disastrous attempt to build a superteam. Los Angeles acquired the 25th pick from Cleveland last February in the trade involving Isaiah Thomas, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

Mykhailiuk was an outstanding outside shooter for the Jayhawks’ Final Four team, scoring 14.6 points per game while hitting 115 total 3-pointers. Knocks on his defense and wingspan put him in the second round, but the Lakers were impressed by his skill in their private workout.

”When you build a team, you have to have pillars that you build on,” Pelinka said. ”We felt like with the two players that we selected tonight in the draft that we added shooting and guys that know how to play the game the right way. We’re just thrilled with the way the night ended for us.”



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