INDIANAPOLIS — A teenager with NBA dreams got the chance to meet a role model, Pacers Rookie Star Bennedict Mathurin, as a painful situation led to moments of joy.
15-year-old Owen King was badly burned in November while playing basketball with his cousin.
“It was like the most unimaginable pain I’ve ever felt,” King said.
Thanks to the doctors at Ascension St. Vincent’s Burn Center, family said you can hardly see the scars on King’s arm and leg. Dr. Jeffrey Gibbs, who operated on King, said while the teenager was in the hospital it was difficult to keep the young athlete down.
“For him, it was trying to keep him in bed when he was in patient rather than up in his room shooting baskets with his mini basketball hoop,” Gibbs said.
Plus, whenever King would return to the hospital after he was released, Gibbs said his bandages would prove he quickly started shooting hoops again. The doctor said that brought a smile during the appointments.
“Because he had been playing basketball nonstop even though he was supposed to be taking it easy which made me laugh because it reminds me of some of the stuff I did when I was a kid,” Gibbs said.
The second-degree burns King suffered led to him missing his sophomore basketball season. But, he did not miss the chance to meet Mathurin at the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
“This is crazy,” King said to the professional player.
“It is crazy,” Mathurin replied.
“I’ve never met an NBA player before,” King said.
As King’s doctor, care team and mom watched as the two spoke, it was clear the player lifted King’s spirits after a long battle to get back in the game.
“Probably when I leave here, I’ll go back and I’ll play some basketball,” King said to Mathurin.