Originally from Los Angeles, California, Jordan Gathers made his way to Indianapolis as a Butler University student.  Jordan’s primary reason why he joined The Hot Room was due to a health crash after his successful basketball career. Life after basketball was a difficult transition for Jordan and he needed to find ways to fill the void. He found himself unwholesome, depressed, and so tired he could barely get out of bed most days. He joined The Hot Room last June, and believes his motivation to continue his practice is largely supported by the instructors and fellow yogis. In the spirit of March Madness we decided to share Jordan’s story. Read on to learn more about Jordan and his life experiences as an athlete, and why he continues work toward living his best life. 

Like any other Division 1 basketball player, I wanted desperately to play professional basketball in the NBA. But then in November 2013, I was injured in a preseason game against South Dakota University. I played the entire 2013-2014 season (only sitting out two games) after being misdiagnosed with a groin injury. The correct diagnosis of a hip labrum tear and hip impingement did not come until six months after my injury when I insisted that the pain was not improving. I underwent arthroscopic surgery on June 27, 2014, with an estimated recovery time of four to six months – an underestimation in hindsight. Dr. Sharon Hame, the outstanding UCLA surgeon, completed a successful repair of my torn labrum and abnormality on my hip bone that had to be shaved down. After surgery, I remember asking myself countless times, will I ever play basketball again?

I did not know the answer and it definitely scared me. As I went through a very demanding regime of physical therapy, I still was not confident about playing again. As I began to heal, get my flexibility back, walk, run and jump without pain, I began to have hope. It was a roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs. Throughout the eight months of rehab, I could not help but reflect back on an amazing 2013-14 basketball season while playing injured. I had an unforgettable moment in Brooklyn, NY, when I hit a game-winning shot to beat the top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. My shot was No. 1 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays and tweeted nationally. The reflection was an important lesson that with hard work and perseverance, much can be accomplished. I graduated in three years with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. During that time, I proudly received an outstanding education, secured an Atlantic-10 Championship and competed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament in March 2013.

After my full recovery, I decided the next step on my path was to attend Butler University to pursue a master’s degree and complete my final year of NCAA athletic eligibility. Finishing my last college experience at Butler University has been a life-defining decision and I am happy to call Indianapolis home. Currently, I work for Indiana Health University at Methodist Hospital in Administration. Working through the biggest transition of my adult life, I navigate through by looking to develop a personal capacity for self-awareness. I came to Indianapolis for school and basketball but in the process, have gained so much more.

I have always loved the quote “preparation meets opportunity” but wondered what happens when you prepare, and the opportunity isn’t there? I have learned that while an opportunity may not be the one expected, the preparations make one ready for the opportunities that do present themselves. As a former student-athlete, I understand clearly that basketball is short-lived. I want to become an influential voice to and for many people.

The Hot Room has given me a breath of fresh air that I needed to prepare me for life after sports. They empower me to become someone who serves others. I am enthusiastic about what the future holds and would be honored to continue to be a part of the yogi society. I have developed a multitude of skills from competing athletically at a high level, completing my bachelor’s & master’s degree, and working in my current position at IU Health, and surviving some difficult life experiences. God has blessed me with confidence and a competitive nature in everything that I do.

It was a whirlwind when I decided not to chase my dream of playing professionally. I went from experiencing a game-winner, being #1 on SportsCenter Top 10 plays (every kid’s dream), hip surgery, physical therapy, and finishing my basketball career at Butler University (2015-16).

In 2014, I tore my hip labrum, the diagnosis was a tear in my right labrum and impingement that required arthroscopic surgery. Physical therapy was a grind and thoroughly enjoyed the process. Time and patience helped me get me back to playing the sport I still love.

Experiences mold you into the person you are going to become in life. I’ve dealt with much adversity throughout my whole life and overcame it all. I’m not finished yet so more adversity is on its way, but I’m preparing myself to overcome it again and reach my long-term goals. I wore number 5 on the court, but my Twitter handle is @44LivesOn as an homage to my uncle, the late, great Eric “Hank” Gathers.

Hank Gathers was a star forward at Loyola Marymount University, becoming the second player in history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the 1988-89 season. Going into his senior season, he was projected as a lottery pick, but he would never be able to hear his name called. On March 4, 1990, his life tragically ended when he died on the court in the first half of the West Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals against Portland. He scored on a slam dunk, then collapsed as he ran back on defense. He attempted to get up, but then stopped breathing. He was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital, and an autopsy later revealed that he had suffered from a heart-muscle disorder called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

I never met my uncle Hank but he had a profound impact on my life because of what he did in his basketball career and his short life off the court. Some people are great players but terrible individuals. My uncle touched many lives in a positive way. All who knew and met him said he was a great person. I want to take that and be remembered in that manner. He left a legacy for our last name and it’s a blessing; I’m proud to carry the name.

Now it’s time to add my contribution to the legacy and lay down my foundation. Yes, I’m the nephew of the late great Hank Gathers but I want to be remembered as Jordan Gathers. I want to create my own legacy that does not erase my uncle’s, just complements it. When it’s all said and done, I want to live the best life I can.