We all have heard about Miami Hurricane basketball player, Julian Gamble’s transformation this season. The 6’10" 250 pound forward-center grew up in Durham, NC, starred at Southern Durham High School, and joined the Hurricanes’ in 2007, redshirting his true freshman season.
Gamble played slightly over 90 games over the next three years, primarily as a reserve, and none in the NCAA tournament. Then the unexpected occurred, Gamble tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg during the summer of 2011 prior to his senior season and fifth year at the University. Months later, the NCAA granted a clock extension allowing Gamble his sixth year.
Although athletes are aware of the dangers involving sports many are unprepared in the event of a severe injury. Gamble like many high school athletes come to their respective college and universities, with high expectations from the school, also from themselves. These student-athletes are recruited based mainly on potential and the players also choose the schools on the potential that this is the platform to get them to the next level in sports and in life.
Gamble is not one of the Canes’ go to players on the offensive end of the floor; but what makes him so valuable to the fifth-ranked Hurricanes’ success this season is his play on the defensive end. Gamble is averaging 6.5 points 5 rebounds per game on 54 percent shooting this season for the Hurricanes’ (23-4, 14-1). They struggled early in the season but went on a 14-game winning streak including 13 of those in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
"Coach Larranaga stressed to us the importance of being consistent when we were struggling early," Gamble said.
The Hurricanes’ had their 14- game winning streak snapped losing on the road 80-65 to Wake Forest on February 23, but with Gamble as the team’s emotional leader, it is highly unlikely that this will break their spirits. It certainly didn’t on Wednesday night as the Canes’ defeated Virginia Tech at home 76-58.
"Even when you are being hunted you can still be the hunter. We are still hungry for more wins. The more we win the hungrier we are to get more," Gamble said.
It is that positive attitude that has helped Gamble overcome past adversity. Right after receiving the news of his torn ACL, the day it happened he tweeted "when something like this happens I don’t ask God why, I ask why not?" Gamble further stated, "Because he will never give me more than I can handle. And I knew it was something I could handle and overcome."
September 2009, six days before his scheduled kidney transplant surgery date. The positive words his father had for him kept sticking with him during this process. "This kept me going." Gamble said.
One of the biggest challenges during the rehabilitation process was dealing with the pain, Gamble stated. "On a day to day basis you’re going to have a level of pain to fight through to get through the rehab process, the longevity of the process like being out for six months and continually having to rehab every day and sometimes not seeing the results as fast as you want is difficult but you have to stay consistent," Gamble said.
Gamble has a tattoo going down the left side of leg that he has had three surgeries performed on spelling "perseverance." This word sticks with him the most. "Being consistent in my effort no matter what the adversity is has really helped me throughout this process," Gamble said.
One word he would use to describe his mother Sarah Gamble, amazing! "She has been through her adversities as well and always comes out on top, always has a positive attitude. She is my rock, my everything!" Gamble said.
Words of wisdom to athletes who are recovering from serious sports related injuries. "Keep a positive mindset, mental toughness will get you through," Gamble said.
Also words of wisdom to college freshmen in reference to time management. "You’re a lot more independent in college than in high school, be proactive don’t wait until the last minute to do things. Don’t find yourself just living for the moment but prepare for the future." Gamble said.
Head Coach Larry Larranaga and the Hurricane basketball coaching staff are doing a great job preparing Gamble for the next level in professional basketball. Also by obtaining his degree last May in sports administration with a minor in business administration, Gamble gave himself options and is well ahead of the athlete’s looking at college sports as a platform to the pros with nothing to fall back on.
The University of Miami and Julian Gamble chose each other based on potential and trust and it has paid big dividends. So it definitely appears that this was truly a "Gamble" worth taking for both.
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