Turiaf Meets The Press
Aug. 19, 2005
SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Gonzaga University men's basketball standout Ronny Turiaf made his first public speaking appearance on Friday since undergoing open heart surgery July 26 at the Stanford Medical Center.
Turiaf held a 35-minute press conference at the Herak Club Room in the McCarthey Athletic Center and reported that while he is still weak and fatigued he "is feeling good about what I'm doing" as he continues his rehabilitation in Spokane.
Turiaf, the 37th pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2005 June NBA Draft and the 2005 West Coast Conference Player of the Year, was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root in mid-July while playing for the Lakers' Summer League team. He had the aortic root repaired on July 26 and after spending a week at the Stanford Medical Center moved back to Spokane.
"I would like to thank every fan, Gonzaga University, the Lakers, the community of Spokane and everybody" who has been thinking about me, Turiaf said in his opening remarks. "I would like to thank everyone who was praying for me during my surgery even though I wasn't aware of it."
He said his goal was "to open my eyes after surgery and then I would do the rest. I will work my butt off to get in better shape, get stronger and get through it."
Turiaf said his rehabilitation is going well.
"I'm able to ride the (stationary) bike for 10-15 minutes and I can dribble on the court. My heart rate goes up pretty fast. I can't sprint but I'm moving faster than a walk," Turiaf said of his dribbling. "But it's good to be out there and do something rather than sit home and play video games.
When asked what kind of a patient he is, he said right now he is "a good patient. Before I was impatient," he laughed. "At first I would walk for five minutes and be sick for nine hours. I feel good about what I'm doing now and I'm excited to keep going."
Turiaf said his next big hurdle is Nov. 7 when he undergoes further testing to make certain the aorta is the right size.
"If everything is okay hopefully you'll see me on the court," he said.
Turiaf doesn't know how long he'll be in Spokane, but still holds out hope he can practice with the Lakers sometime during the upcoming basketball season.
"I talk to the GM (general manager Mitch Kupchak) on a weekly basis. We stay in contact," Turiaf said. "The doctors said in three months I might be able to play basketball again. What does that mean? I don't know. I hope I can go back to Los Angeles sometime in November or December and work out with my potential teammates again. That's far down the road. I'm taking just one day at a time."
Turiaf said Spokane was the natural place for him to come for his rehabilitation.
"Where did you want me to go," Turiaf said when asked why Spokane was his choice for rehabilitation. "I don't have a home anywhere. Spokane is where I belong and where the people who have helped me succeed are," Turiaf said. "I could have gone back to Martinique and relaxed on the beach, but I would be far from the doctors and my friends. Everybody here has the best interests of me. Spokane is my house and where I feel I belong."
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