When Stanford forward Andy Brown suffered his third ACL tear in 18 months in 2010, he called it one of the lowest points of his life.
His frustration must be even greater three years later now that he has sustained a fourth.
Stanford announced Wednesday evening that Brown's college career is over after he tore his right ACL on Tuesday morning during a team workout. The previous three ACL tears Brown suffered between Jan. 2009 and August 2010 were all in his left knee.
"I just want to thank all of my teammates and coaches during the past four years who have always been there to support and encourage me," Brown said in a statement. "I never would have been able to battle back through these injuries without their help. Even though this is a difficult way to end my career, I feel grateful to have been able to wear a Stanford uniform and contribute to such a great program and university. I will do everything I can to help the team from the sideline this year."
Stanford will miss Brown's leadership, hustle and scoring punch off the bench next season, but this injury is far more heartbreaking for the player than his team. Someone with the work ethic and heart Brown has displayed battling back from his first three ACL tears deserved a better outcome than having his career end as a result of a fourth.
The son of a college football player and an All-American women's volleyball star, Brown grew up excelling in baseball, soccer and basketball but he eventually focused exclusively on hoops because it was the sport he enjoyed the most. He became a good enough prospect at prestigious Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif. that he received scholarship offers from many of the West Coast's top programs, eventually selecting Stanford over Arizona.
He viewed his first ACL tear as a minor setback even though it cost him the second half of his senior season at Mater Dei. He approached his second ACL tear as a chance to add muscle and better prepare himself for college basketball even though it happened on the very first day of practice at Stanford his freshman year. And he refused to let his third ACL tear end his playing days either even though doctors could not guarantee him the knee wouldn't give way again.
Sure enough, Brown achieved his goal of returning to the floor, making his college debut during Stanford's run to the NIT championship in March 2012 and becoming a key player off the bench for last year's Cardinal team. He averaged 6.2 points and 2.8 rebounds and shot a team-best 48.5 percent from the floor.
As you might expect from a player of Brown's character, he won't let his fourth ACL tear keep him from contributing to Stanford's quest to reach the NCAA tournament next March for the first time in Johnny Dawkins' six-year tenure. He has pledged to provide leadership and encouragement from the sideline as he works toward a Master’s in communication after receiving his undergraduate degree in communication last month.
"Everyone associated with our program is saddened by Andy’s latest injury," Dawkins said in a statement. "Nobody has worked harder to get back into playing shape, having already experienced three tears and waiting two full years before putting on a uniform. What makes this even more disappointing is Andy had already passed the initial test of getting back on the court. He was a highly-productive player for our team last year and we were fully counting on him to be a key contributor again this season."
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