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An inspirational memoir by the NBA champion, Olympic gold medalist, and kidney transplant survivor whose charitable foundations help countless people in communities throughout the country.
From petitioning himself into foster care as a ten-year-old, to studying his way onto the Dean's list at Georgetown, to battling his way into superstar status in the NBA, Alonzo Mourning's internal strength, belief, and determination have driven him his entire life. But it was not until he was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease and underwent a kidney transplant in 2003 that Mourning realized the true nature of his RESILIENCE.
In September 2000, Alonzo Mourning was on the top of the world. He had a huge contract with the NBA’s Miami Heat, a new Olympic gold medal, and a second beautiful child; all to go with fame and fabulous fortune. But it was also then that he was diagnosed with a rare, incurable and degenerative kidney disease, Focal Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Rocked by reality, Mourning’s will would soon be tested to its limits. But true to his nature, Mourning vowed to overcome FSGS and to help raise awareness for the disease. Over the next three years he went in and out of retirement, donated part of his salary to charity, retired again and finally, in 2003, after a frantic search for a donor match, found all of his six feet ten inches, 255 pounds lying "as helpless as an infant" in a hospital recovery room.
Blessed with a new kidney and a new outlook on life, Mourning vowed to make this second chance count, to rededicate himself to others and open up his hard exterior. As he worked himself back into shape, Alonzo became more and more involved in his charitable foundation, which has raised more than $6 million for various organizations that aid at-risk children. In 2003 he opened his first youth center in Miami, Florida. And though most expected he would never play basketball again, in 2006 Mourning helped lead the Miami Heat to its first NBA championship.
Alonzo Mourning : A Highlight Reel – On and Off the Court
• His childhood in Chesapeake, VA: Knowing that his home life was unhealthy, 10 year old Alonzo Mourning petitioned himself into foster care. After spending some time in a group home, Mourning was placed in the home of Fannie Threet where he lived until leaving for Georgetown University. Today, Mourning has a close relationship with his biological parents, yet still calls Mrs. Threet “mom.”
• His career at Georgetown: After an intense recruitment process, Mourning decided to go to Georgetown University and play under legendary head coach –and tough disciplinarian --John Thompson. Thompson made the one promise that no one else did: "The only thing I'm going to promise you, Mrs. Threet, is if [Alonzo] wants to get an education, he'll get one. I'll make sure he gets an education." Though he could have left
school early to join the NBA, in 1992, Mourning graduated with a degree in sociology,the first college graduate in his family.
• His early career in the NBA: Mourning was drafted as the number two pick, of the first round, by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1992 NBA draft. After three years with the Hornets, Mourning moved on in 1995 to spend seven years with the Miami Heat leading the team to several Eastern division titles.
• Alonzo Mourning the Olympian: In 2000, Mourning went to Sydney to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian. But under one condition: that he would not miss the birth of his second child. Halfway through the tournament, Tracy Mourning went into labor and Alonzo flew halfway around the world to be there, arriving in Miami just 30 minutes before their daughter, Myka Sydney, was born. Alonzo spent one night at the hospital in Miami before heading back to Sydney to lead the United States to a Gold Medal.
• Mourning’s diagnosis with Focal Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS): In the Fall of 2000, just before the start of the NBA season, Alonzo was feeling more tired than normal but attributed it to his grueling schedule –the Olympics had taken their toll and with a new baby in the family, getting rest was difficult. As his agent drove him to see a doctor for some tests, Mourning passed out in the car and was soon diagnosed with Focal
Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). A rare and incurable kidney disease. For the next three years, Mourning was in and out of treatment, and continued to play basketball while doctors managed his condition.
• Alonzo Mourning, transplant survivor: When it became clear to Alonzo would need a transplant the Mourning’s began an exhaustive search for a donor. Strangers and friends –including NBA great and fellow Georgetown Hoya Patrick Ewing—offered to be tested. Mourning’s cousin Jason Cooper, who he had not seen in 25 years, was a perfect match. Mourning received Cooper's left kidney on December 19, 2003.
• Mourning’s NBA comeback and NBA Championship: After an amazing recovery from transplant surgery, Mourning played the last 13 games of the 2003-2004 season with the New Jersey Nets. In 2005, back in Miami with the Heat, he was an integral part in leading the team to their first NBA Championship in the 2005-06 season.
• Alonzo Mourning’s charity work: Since 1997, AM Charities has raised more than $6.5 million for various programs that aid in the development of children and their families. In addition to supporting other non-profit organizations, Mourning has focused his attention to stimulating the development of youth enrichment centers. With the help of donors, Mourning opened the first center in 2003 in the historic area of Overtown, in South Florida, known as the Overtown Youth Center. At the start of the 2000-2001 season, Mourning led a campaign to fight FSGS and raised $2 million for research, education, and testing.
• Alonzo Mourning’s family life: Alonzo and his wife Tracy met as teenagers while Alonzo was at a basketball tournament in Las Vegas. Through a series of luck and blessings (and with the help of Bill Cosby!), Tracy ended up at Howard University in Washington D.C., not far from the Georgetown campus. They continued to date throughout college and in spite of a brief hiatus early on in Alonzo’s NBA career, have been together ever since. Alonzo and Tracy have two children, son Trey and daughter Myka.