Alonzo Mourning's foundation early in life...was a strong one.
"I found strength in the contributions of others: coaches, teachers, family members and, what have you. They all planted certain seeds in my life, which enabled me to develop into the person that I am."
His belief in himself took him to the top of the world in the sport he loved his entire life. In September 2000, Mourning had a huge contract with the NBA's Miami Heat, a new Olympic gold medal and a family that was growing with the birth of his second child.
"I was at an all-time high in my life and, going through a pre-season physical, they detected some abnormalities in my body chemistry. Immediately, the nephrologist, the kidney doctor told me that I would probably be on dialysis within the next ten to twelve months, and I would need a kidney transplant."
He was diagnosed with a rare, incurable and degenerative kidney disease. Mourning says he went into denial because he was accustomed to over- coming any injuries that he had due to the tough NBA schedule. Over the next three years, he went in and out of retirement and donated part of his salary to charity. Finally, in 2003, after a frantic search for a donor match, one was found in his relative.
"I went to about eight or nine months of rehabilitation in getting my body strong again and adapting to these anti-rejection medicines that I had to take over a period of time. And I got back on the court. I took a resilient approach and never gave up. I took an approach to get back on that court and ultimately, I was at the height of my game again and we won a championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat."
Blessed with a new outlook on life, Mourning vowed to make his second chance count. He says a positive approach is important:
"The body follows the mind you know, and in every adversity, there's a seed of equivalent benefit. So, I look at the positives that I've been able to pull out of this scenario. First of all, it's made me stronger, mentally and physically. It's made me much stronger. Second, I feel like I've been able to connect with more people off the court than I have on the court, simply because I've become a voice for organ donation."
There are 20-million Americans who suffer from chronic kidney disease and another 20-million who could eventually join those ranks due to diabetes, hyper tension and high cholesterol. Mourning's inspirational journey is found in his book, Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph.
"Not only will the words inspire you and help change your overall life and approach to certain obstacles that you face, the sale of every book will also change lives. Fifty percent of the proceeds goes towards kidney research, and to help people who can't afford the medications as well."
Pat Hernandez, KUHF...Houston Public Radio News.