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Man's love of basketball fuels miraculous recovery after suffering strokes

A few years ago, a Kansas City basketball coach suddenly woke up in the middle of the night.In an instant, he ...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 3:05 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 3:05 PM

A few years ago, a Kansas City basketball coach suddenly woke up in the middle of the night.

In an instant, he was both confused and terrified. He knew immediately his life would be changed forever.

But, Ed Corporal is a fighter and with some special assistance. He barely missed a step.

Corporal's story begins where he feels most comfortable -- on a basketball court. But, it's not the game of basketball that keeps drawing him to the court. It's the players.

"They inspire me to be here, be around them and getting a chance to still continue to do what I love," he said.

Corporal has loved basketball since he was a boy. He was a ball boy for the old Kansas City Kings. He would grow up to become a high school coach in both basketball and volleyball and eventually coach in the pros.

But, if teaching the Xs and Os of the game is his passion, Corporal says coaching his players about life may be his calling.

"I set them all down and told them my story, and I think it helps them, especially when they're going through tough moments in practice and games. They think coach has been through a lot tougher things. If he can get through that I, can get through that," Corporal said.

In 2013, Corporal suffered not one but two strokes.

Sam Porritt of the Falling Forward Foundation says it was a miracle he was in a hospital when he had a second stroke.

"The second stroke paralyzed the entire left side of his body, couldn't move his arm, leg, nothing on the left side of his body," he said.

Corporal knew he was in serious trouble.

"I felt like someone had me pinned down and I couldn't move it, and I really kind of panicked," he said.

Corporal would spend the next four months in a hospital and then begin grueling rehab therapy to learn to walk again. However, his insurance plan only covered a few months of therapy, and, according to the Falling Forward Foundation, that is common.

"About 700,000 people a year have a stroke. Most of those people never go back to work, because most of those people because of therapy caps are disabled for the rest of their lives. Ed's the exception, but Ed shows many of our other patients show what's possible," Porritt said.

When Corporal's insurance ran out, Porritt's non-profit foundation stepped in to pay for his rehab therapy. Amazingly, less than two years after his stroke, Corporal was able to dance with his daughter at her sixteenth birthday celebration.

"And that was probably the most memorable night I've ever had when I was able to do that with her," Corporal said.

Today, you'll find Corporal back out on a basketball court as he is now the assistant coach of Kansas City's new pro basketball team the Tornados.

"This is good therapy for him. He comes out here, and he may start tap dancing or running off the floor when the guys get too close to him so it's helping him out and keeping him around the game he loves," head coach Calvin Thompson said.

But, Corporal's recovery isn't just turning heads here. The Falling Forward Foundation flew him to Washington DC to lobby against therapy caps by telling his emotional story of recovery.

Porritt says Corporal was a hit with lawmakers.

"A member of Congress is crying after Ed tells his story," he said.

But, politics will have to wait, because there's more coaching to do -- more teaching, more mentoring and finding new ways to motivate his players.

However, considering what he's been through, there are days he inspires others by simply walking onto a basketball court.

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