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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

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Greg Gantt Jr. road to recovery

Greg Gantt Jr. preparing for a lay-up during a game.
UNC Asheville Athletics Department
Greg Gantt Jr. preparing for a lay-up during a game.

Greg Gantt Jr is one of UNC Asheville’s star basketball players. The 6 foot 8 inch forward has a career total of 232 points throughout his seasons. 

He suffered a knee injury in March 2023 and needed surgery to take place. He went through the difficult recovery process and was back on the court, sadly just 8 months later he had to undergo another surgery leaving him to sit out for a part of the 2023 season. Luckily he returned January 3rd 2024 ready to play his first game back.

Gantt was surprised he had to go through the process once again, but God has a plan for him to do great things.

“My knee surgery in November caught me by surprise. I had already had surgery on my knee in March so this 2nd one was because the first one didn’t do its job. So, mentally I was in a tough place. Wondering why I’m having to go through this again and where we went wrong in my recovery process. As I thought about it though I just became numb to the fact that there’s nothing I can do to change what’s happened. I just had to accept it and make the best out of my days,” Gantt said. 

The discouraging reality of not being able to do what you love is  hard for an athlete. Putting in all that work, sacrificing so much, missing out on group activities because your practice schedule conflicts with others plans, seeing  your teammates more than you see your family. And all of that passion you put into working for body to be the fastest and strongest it can get, training to have great mobility and ability and have quick reaction time, the grit and heart you put into every practice, every game can be limited by one inconvenience making it feel unbearable to just be sitting and waiting to recover. Gantt had a wave of depression come over him which is not unusual for an athlete when something you love is taken from you. 

“It’s draining being depressed and I knew that’s not the type of energy I wanted to be consumed within everyday,” Gantt said. 

There were days when he felt defeated, and not confident that he was ever going to play to the same caliber as he did before the surgeries.

“There were multiple days where I began to doubt my abilities. I had doubts about if my body could withstand the amount of stress that’s required to play Division 1 basketball,” Gantt said.

“It’s a lot, it’s an everyday grind. Some days my body feels better than others but I had to understand that, that’s normal and what comes with recovering from major injuries,” Gantt said. 

Not everyday is going to be a great day but it doesn’t rain forever. When the clouds open up and you see the sun again that’s when you know you are going to be alright. Having supportive people around you to help you see the brighter side of things can encourage you to keep your head high and not forget all that you’ve achieved. This allowed him to keep up the positive attitude throughout his recovery.

“I had a support system throughout my recovery. I had the support of my coaches who were very positive with me through my recovery. I received encouragement from all my teammates on a daily basis. My family played a major role as well, my sisters checking up on me, grandparents in touch with me, my aunt and uncles reaching out. I had a lot of people making sure I was ok mentally and physically,” Gantt said. 

The months Gantt was out turned into weeks, weeks turned into days, soon days turned to hours, then just minutes before he returned to his first game since the surgery. The feeling of relief Gantt felt that day putting on his jersey after a long and dismal recovery had to be one of the greatest feelings an athlete can experience. Getting the opportunity to do what he loves and what keeps a smile on his face is a blessing, and everyone deserves to find something that gives them that rush.

“My first game back was just a sigh of relief for me. It felt like a reward for all those long dark days where I couldn’t even walk at my own power, those days ! dreaded going into therapy because I was so sore, even the days I doubted if I could do it again. Just having the opportunity to put my jersey on again was a blessing that I was thankful for,” Gantt said. 

Gantt knew it was good g to take time to get back into the flow of things. He knew that putting pressure on himself his first few weeks back wasn’t going to help him because everything is a process. Always keeping in mind that not everything will fall into his lap perfectly all at once.

“I believe in myself, and in my abilities, and I know that I’m special, but everything happens due to time. Winning is hard in college basketball and for someone like me who’s at a new school with a new team and new coaches it’s just gonna be a process for me implementing myself mid season in the most important games of the season. My time will come, just in the meantime I’m trying to focus on getting my body back to a 100% and sharpening my game back up,” Gantt said.

The belief in higher power fuels the mind and soul. Gantt believes it’s all in the plan God has made for him. He understands that everything happens for a reason and asking for guidance in the right direction will put certain things in place to where in the end he’s granted with all the things he prayed for.

“I just pray to God. Pray for his guidance, and understand whatever is meant to happen will,” Gantt said. 

Gantt has had a tough season but still found his light with the encouragement of coaches, teammates, friends and family. He’s not done making his mark on UNC Asheville’s men’s basketball team and still driving to the top.

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