In a rocket-propelled grenade attack last week while guarding a Baghdad police station, former Notre Dame basketball standout and current U.S. Army Military Police officer Danielle Green. The 27-year-old Chicago native lost her left hand, dislocated her left shoulder and suffered shrapnel wounds to her left leg.
The hand Green lost was her shooting hand, the one she used to score 1,106 points—17th on the Fighting Irish career list—and help lead Notre Dame to four NCAA tournament bids from 1995 to 2000. In 1997 a torn Achilles tendon forced the guard to miss the entire season as her teammates made the school's first Final Four appearance. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw remembers Green training every day so she could return to the court. "Her background in athletics is going to help her," McGraw says. "The perseverance, the determination she developed is going to see her through."
McGraw last saw Green in December, when the Irish traveled to play the University of Washington, near Fort Lewis, where Green's 571st Military Police Company was based. "She seemed to be flourishing," McGraw says. After graduating from Notre Dame with a degree in psychology, Green worked as an assistant girls' basketball coach at Washington High in Chicago and spent one season as an assistant at Chicago State. But she didn't feel coaching was her calling, so in January 2003, Green, a junior ROTC lieutenant colonel in high school, enlisted in the Army, seeing it as preparation for a career in law enforcement.
Now her plans have changed. Says her husband, Willie Byrd, the retired girls' basketball coach at Washington High, "I tried to convince her to come home and be a housewife, but she's a go-getter and now wants to get a counseling degree." First, though, Green is getting used to life as a righthander at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. One of the first things she did was take the platinum wedding band her comrades recovered from the attack scene and place it on her right hand. It was, she said, a perfect fit.