Kevin Parrom's cancer-striken mother has breathing problems and a grim prognosis. It would be tempting for the Arizona Wildcats forward to make yet another trip to New York to see her.
But he won't. At least not for the time being.
"She told me to stay here, focused on school and on rehab," Parrom said Tuesday, in his first public comments since being shot in the Bronx on Sept. 24. "She doesn't want me back."
So Parrom stays in Tucson, meeting with medical specialists, rehabilitating and attending class. UA coach Sean Miller said he has applied for an NCAA waiver that would allow Parrom to drop down to nine units and stay eligible instead of taking the normal minimum of 12, in order to clear up some time and focus.
Parrom and Miller detailed what the player is going through now, in an interview with the Star on Tuesday, and here are some other details and comments that could not be fit in that story:
Miller on why the trip was set up: "He lost his grandmother over the summer and we found out that his mom has been battling cancer for a couple of years. She's recently been in the hospital, having problems breathing. So with a couple of open weekends before the start of our season we agreed with the family to let's see if we can get him home and obviously his family paid for the trip.
"And he went home with the sole intention of seeing his mom. He took a red eye flight (arriving Friday Sept. 23) from Phoenix, landed and went straight to the hospital. Really spent the day in the hospital, with his mom, and really wasn't in the mood to do a whole lot because he had the next day and a Monday flight back. He has a friend, a girl he's known for a decade. She knew he was coming to town and connected with him and ended up meeting him in the place that he grew up in the Bronx -- his dad's apartment -- and those two are in there. This was like two young people talking. And then two people found out she was in there ... (and) Kevin didn't invite them in."
Miller said Parrom's quick return after a two-day hospital stay was primarily because UA wanted Parrom back for evaluation and treatment -- not because he was OK.
"We worked hard with his dad to get him out and on Monday night (Sept. 26) he came back to Tucson," Miller said. "It was almost like, `Well, he must be fine.' It wasn't that he was fine as much as we knew he had great care here in Tucson. There was nothing really good there in New York for him. It was just good to have him back here under our care and direction.
"It's been two and a half weeks now and, as he's made progress, the one thing his mom's still in the hspoital. She's really battling for her life. He went back (last week) for the sole purpose of identifying the shooter and talking to the grand jury."
Miller on the NCAA appeal:
"He's fighting two battles. He's worried about his mom like anyone would be and working hard to get back. We appealed to the NCAA to go from 12 hours to nine because of extenuating circumstances. It'll give him more time to mentally and physically deal with what he can do. We don't have the answer yet but we're very optimistic. He's still in four (classes) but it'll be dropped to three (if the waiver is granted)."
UA trainer Justin Kokoskie said Parrom has met with a battery of hand doctors, hand surgeons, trauma surgeons, neurosurgeons and other experts since returning to Tucson. Kokoskie said a bullet entered the side of Parrom's right leg and that two fragments traveled up the back side of his leg before stopping.
They will probably not be removed.
"There's two bullet fragments in the posterior aspect of his upper leg," Kokoskie said. "They're small bullet fragments and we've seen them on X-rays. They stay in there; it's very vascular (in that area), so the risk to go in there and pull them out is many times too risky to take.
Kokoskie said Parrom also had numerous stitches on his left hand, which also took a shot, but that the lacerations will not be a problem in returning to basketball.
"His focus is from the right knee down," Kokoskie said. "When Kevin came down, he didn’t have any feeling and no movement.
"This is a long process, kind of step by step. We're teaching him to walk again and teaching him to jog again and cut again. ... There's a lot of different structures in that area. There's a lot of soft tissue. It’s a process of reteaching a lot of those structures."
Miller on the rehab and the possibility of redshirting:
"Where Kevin is making progress is his ability to use his right foot. For it to move and for him to regain feeling in his calf, and his leg, it’s happening but I don’t think any of us have a crystal ball to figure out that two weeks from today he’s going to be fine but or two months from today he’s going to be fine. But the one thing we can continue to bank on is that he and Justin are continuing to work hard, he’s seeing experts and he’s making progress.
"There’s a range and Kevin knows as well. The good news is it looks like he’s going to make a recovery. Will that be next year or a month from now? That’s what we’re trying to figure out, when we get more information. Kevin has the opportunity to redshirt if we both decide it's not in his best interest to play. What we hope is that he makes slow, steady progress, and that it’s in his best interest and the team's where he can return to the court. ... our course is to always do what's in Kevin's best interest, not just to throw him out there on Super Bowl Sunday and say, `Hey, take us to the finish line.' "
"We’re all excited that he’s made progress in the first couple of weeks. We could be here now and he could be in the exact same position he was when he came back here on that Monday. He does things now that he didn’t do when he came here and hopefully that progression will continue. It’s just odd because it's not like a hamstring (pull) and you know the guidelines."
Parrom said his hand is fine. On his leg, he said:
"When it first happened, I couldn’t feel anything from my knee down to my toes. Now I’m getting some feeling, certain areas, and that’s the bottom line right now."
An active Tweeter, Parrom said the support he's received online and in person has been strong. He said he has not undergone any professional counseling, instead relying on the support of teammates, coaches and fans.
"A lot of people in Tucson and back home" have been supportive, he said. "Tucson has been great to me. A lot of people have been showing support. Text, call, Twitter, Facebook. Everything."
Still, with his injuries and his mother's fate, Parrom still has done plenty of introspection.
"I really don’t know why this happening, but it’s for reason," Parrom said. "It’s only going to make me stronger as a person."
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