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  • Writer's pictureLauryn Satterwhite

A Blessing in Disguise

Three ACL’s later.. Can you believe I am still hoopin’? Those who answered yes — know me best. They know it takes a little more than an injury to disrupt what The Lord has planned for me.

For the greater good of everyone reading this, I am not going to talk about the domino effect of ACL’s I went through because that story has already been told… and I’m pretty sure I would exceed the word limit. Instead, I want to talk about my third ACL tear specifically, and how it was a blessing that allowed me to find myself, my passions, and build deeper relationships that would have never existed if it wasn’t for a little hardship slapping me in the face. Or in my case, kicking me in the knee.

Photo by Ryan Kuttler

Where Do I Even Start?

Having the game of basketball taken away from me so many times made me realize that life is so much more than just basketball. Yes, I’ve played the game my whole life, but it’s not my whole life.

I was so caught up in competing, winning games, and being the best player I could possibly be that I forgot basketball was just a game – a game that was supposed to be fun.

When I got hurt the third time, and the game I played everyday was taken away from me AGAIN, I wasn’t sure what to feel or do with my life. Some say (okay only my mom says this) that I went through the Five Stages of Grief after I tore my ACL for the third time.


I couldn’t believe I tore my ACL again. I felt like it was unheard of, for someone to actually do it three times in the same knee. I ended up getting an MRI scan, even after I had the doctor manually do the ACL test on my knee multiple times. When I got my results back, the doctor told me my ACL disintegrated and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. Would you believe what you were hearing? Because I surely had a hard time comprehending what had just happened.


Imagine you are competing at the World Cup Stacking competition. You’ve been preparing for this moment ever since you were little and you see the finish line right in front of you. All you have to do is stack the cups as fast as you can into a pyramid first —to win. The competition starts and you are killing it. You are three, four, five cups ahead of everyone. As you reach to grab the last cup to finish out the pyramid and win the competition, a gust of wind comes out of nowhere and knocks the pyramid over. You lose the competition from something out of your control. How mad would you be? Imagine that anger and multiply it by ten. That’s how I was feeling.


As soon as I tore my ACL I told myself, “I’m going to play without it.” I started researching how to accomplish something unrealistic, but not impossible. After doing research and talking with my athletic trainer, Kathleen Buckingham, and sports performance coach, Lesley Moser, we came to the conclusion that if I was able to strengthen all the muscles surrounding my ACL, fuel a specific way, and change some of my movement mechanics, I could play college basketball. And this is exactly what I did… at least for a little bit.


I played without the ACL, maybe five or six games, but I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I wasn’t having fun, and I didn’t want to play anymore. I lost faith in myself, and was back to square one. I was depressed because I was physically incapable of being the player I wanted to be. I didn’t feel like my whole self. Partly because I was missing an entire ligament, but for the most part I couldn’t take it mentally.


I got my third ACL surgery on Jan. 10, 2019. I accepted the fact that I tore it again and it was going to be a long road of recovery. I However, it was the moment I knew everything would work out according to God’s plan.

James 1:3-4 “3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (KJV)

Hm.. So What Did This Experience Show Me?

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty dramatic. But it only goes to show how much this sport had a hold on my life. And I was only able to see this with the trial that the Most High placed in front of me. The first blessing that I saw out of this injury was that I had the length of my recovery (around 9-12 months) to figure out who Lauryn Satterwhite was outside of basketball. I took on this challenge because I had a lot of time on my hands, and ultimately, I was pretty bored.

After my surgery, I spent a lot of time in The Word, and talking with my brother about God. I was able to learn so much about the Lord I didn’t know before. I was able to build a true foundation on how to live by reading and developing a deeper relationship with The Most High; this made me see the world for what it really was and learn about why things happen the way they do. It brought me to open my eyes and ears to different experiences, and I started finding new interests that brought me joy.

I remember I was taking an art course called sculpting during my recovery. I found myself after long days of rehab, practice and film going back to campus and working on sculpting projects late at night in the basement of Kresge Hall. Sculpting wasn’t something I was great at, but I was so happy doing it. Basketball has always been an outlet for me, but it was cool to be reminded that even without basketball, there’s still so much the world has to offer that can bring the same smile to my face. And if you don’t know already, I probably have one of the best smiles in the world. :)

Apart from sculpting, I had the opportunity to join different organizations within the athletic community, like Engage and BSA (Black Student Athlete Alliance). I never even thought to take the time to join clubs or organizations before because my investment was always in basketball. Within these organizations I was able to discover how much I really enjoy advocating for black people and being outspoken about controversial issues.

I feel like I found my voice, especially since I had the time to observe, research, and learn about things other than just ball. And this voice that I found, made me realize my passion for storytelling.

There’s a chain of events from this trial that made me who I am today, but I think one of most important lessons I learned from this blessing was to really value my friendship and relationships. Not only did I grow closer to the Lord during this time, but I grew closer with so many people that I call my best friends now. My injury allowed me to meet so many amazing people that I wouldn’t have met before, and I was also able to connect with friends on a different level.

When I play basketball now, I feel so much more free, and I find it fun again because I know I am not defined by it anymore. I am beyond grateful for the story I have and even more appreciative of the opportunity to share part of it.

Genesis 22:18

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (KJV)

Photo by Ryan Kuttler


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