Keith Van Horn sat in the comer of the hospital room on the evening of May 29, 1995, and began writing a 10-page term paper that was due the following day for his health-education class at Utah. All the paper had at that point was a title—"Personal Resilience"—but because Van Horn isn't a connoisseur of irony, it never occurred to him that he might simply chronicle the events that were swirling around him at that very moment.
A few feet away from where Van Horn sat resolutely drafting the paper, his girlfriend, Amy Sida, was in labor. As Sida's Lamaze coach, Van Horn eventually helped out with the delivery, and during the slower moments he wrote. At 1:30 a.m., Van Horn cut newborn Sabrina's umbilical cord. He slept that night in the hospital, woke early the next morning, returned to his apartment and typed the paper in time for the 4 p.m. deadline. "There were two things due on the same day," Van Horn recalls matter-of-factly. "Amy and my paper. Both worked out great." He wound up with a daughter and an A.
Van Horn's mastery of personal resilience was even more evident a year later when he chose not to cut the cord. Thirty-five college underclassmen and three high school players declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft last spring, and none of them had sounder reasons to leave school than the 6'10", 230-pound Van Horn. After averaging 21.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a junior to win his second straight Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year award, he had cause to believe that if he left school, he would be one of the first 10 players taken in the NBA draft. Good news for a guy with a family to support.
Van Horn had already discussed the matter over dinner in Salt Lake City with Utah coach Rick Majerus a week after the final game of the 1995-96 season. Majerus listed the pros and cons of jumping to the NBA, estimating that with the league's rookie salary cap, Van Horn's first contract would pay him around $6 million for three seasons. Then the coach commenced the following interview.
Majerus: What kind of car do you want?
Van Horn: A Lexus.
Majerus: What kind of house do you want?
Van Horn: A house with a swimming pool.
Majerus: What does Amy want?
Van Horn: She wants to go to nursing school.