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Heart condition sidelines top New Mexico recruit
Posted: Tuesday October 13, 1998 07:03 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) -- New Mexico has lost a very good point guard -- but in doing so may have helped save a life.
Junior college transfer Dontay Hicks, who was expected to start for the Lobos this season, has a heart condition known as cardiomyopathy -- described by doctors as a weakening of the heart muscle.
It's unlikely Hicks will play this season. He may never play again.
"We believe in miracles and it's going to be a miracle," New Mexico coach Dave Bliss said Tuesday of Hicks' chances of playing again. "Basketball is just a game. We're talking here about a severe health problem."
Hicks' heart condition was discovered about six weeks ago while the 6-foot-1 guard from Milwaukee underwent routine physical exams for the upcoming season. Hicks also was tested recently by heart specialists in Milwaukee. They confirmed what University of New Mexico doctors found.
"Dontay Hicks is currently being evaluated and treated for a heart problem known as cardiomyopathy," Dr. Chris McGrew, UNM's assistant team physician said in a statement issued by Hicks. "This is a condition in which the heart muscle is weakened and does not pump blood at the normal efficiency level. The reason for the weakening of his heart muscle is not known at this time." It may never be known, McGrew said.
Bliss said Hicks' medical history shows he underwent surgery at age 5 to repair two holes in his heart.
"Whether this is deterioration from that or something else, no one knows," Bliss said.
Hicks averaged 20.7 points, 6.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds a game last season at Allen Community College in Iola, Kansas.
"Things happen for a reason. I'm just glad it happened to me now instead of me being out there and having some tragedy or something crazy happen [on the court]," Hicks told the Albuquerque Journal.
He expressed hope that he might be able to rejoin the Lobos for the second half of the season, but Bliss said Tuesday that's unlikely.
"As much as we want him ... the history of this ailment does not encourage it," Bliss said. "What he has to do is realize there is life after basketball, because he was going to come to this point. We're trying to help him realize it came a lot sooner than he deserved or wanted, but it was going to happen."But Hicks isn't giving up. He said he plans to jog, lift weights and shoot baskets to stay in shape.
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