Bobby still cringes when he recalls the agony of those first two weeks. People would visit him and be greeted with "I'm messed up, man. I'm messed up bad." He was on morphine for 10 days and almost wore out the call button asking for more. But also: "I remember in the hospital, the doctor asking me to wiggle my toes, and I could do that," says Hurley. "I knew I'd be able to walk again."
The rehabilitation process was draining. Six weeks after the accident, having returned to New Jersey, Hurley began going to a health club in Bayonne. The act of walking across the gym to a treadmill winded him. His first attempt at sustained exercise was to walk a mile in 10 minutes, which was embarrassing. "That frustrated me because I've always been in such great shape," Hurley says. "When I got to the Kings' training camp, I was in the best shape of my life."
By early March, Hurley was running. In April he began playing games of one-on-one with his personal trainer, Mike Hurley (no relation), using a nine-foot basket. "Nobody should ever underestimate that kid's heart or his determination," says King coach Gary St. Jean. "I'm just happy he's alive, but for his sake, I hope he comes all the way back."
It was an unexpected bonus that the torn ligament in Hurley's knee didn't require surgery. "He has a complete tear, but without the instability you would expect," says Marder. "The joint behaves as if it's a partial tear." The injury to the left shoulder is more troublesome.
"I still have a hard time doing things going to my left," Hurley says, "It'll come."
Marder agrees. "He's well ahead of where I would have expected him to be," he says. "It's very realistic to think that he'll be playing basketball again."
The emotional recovery has been difficult, too. Flashbacks to the accident, seemingly as real and terrifying as the crash itself, have been unnerving. Hurley will be sitting on a couch or, worse, driving a car, when something will trigger the memory of the crash. "I'll hear a car horn or I'll be looking at my scars, and I'll think about the accident, and my body will just start shaking, almost like I'm reliving it," Hurley says. "A couple of times I actually did relive it, and I was really shook for a while."
At one point Hurley consulted a sports psychologist, who helped him devise ways to shake loose from the flashbacks. "If I'm sitting alone and feel one coming on, I turn on the TV set, things like that," Hurley says. "I'm coming to grips with it, not letting it overpower me. I feel like I'm normal now."
Hurley plans to spend most of this summer at the five-bedroom house he bought for his family on the Jersey shore. He is having a gym installed in the garage. He recently bought a $100,000 Mercedes 500SL because, he says, "after the accident I promised I'd treat myself to a nice new car. Plus, if I get in another accident, this is a pretty good cat to be sitting in."
Danny, too, is mending. He has undergone counseling and is working out. "He's a different kid," says Seton Hall trainer John Levitt, one of his closest friends. "What happened to Bobby was the turning point in his life." Like his brother, Danny plans to return to his team, though with a lesser emotional investment. "Just to try to enjoy myself," he says. "Not to take the burden."