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Lonzo Ball shares the gruesome details of his injury, including needing a meniscus donor

On the second episode of his newest podcast “What An Experience,” Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball shared the gruesome details of his knee injury that’s kept him out for over 2.5 years.

The injury cost him three separate surgeries on the same knee and has left him on the shelf since January 2022 He lists off numerous operations he’s required for the knee, including receiving a new meniscus.

“To make a long story short, ultimately, it started with the meniscus tear,” Ball said. “Basically, it started on the Lakers when I tore it the first time. Tore it a couple more times to a point to where there was no more, basically, not much meniscus left and bone on bone was rubbing.

“So the cartilage was gone and the bone was messed up so I had to get, actually, a new meniscus from a donor. I had to get a bone allograft and I had to get some cartilage put in, as well. All that, finally, healed up and I’m back on the court now.”

Ball tore his meniscus with the Bulls in January 2022. That was just the tip of the iceberg. He required an arthroscopic debridement to clear up debris from his knee during a second surgery. His most recent surgery, in March 2023, was a cartilage transplant for his knee, which he explained on the podcast.

All that has led him to today, where he admitted on the first episode of the podcast he’s nearing full health. He’s not quite where he wants to be, but he believes he could get back on the floor if he wished.

“It’s coming along, man. Week by week,” Ball said on May 14. “It’s improving, so that’s all I can ask for. Still not where I want it to be. Out of 100 (percent), I’d say I’m about 70 (percent). Good enough to play, but it could still get better. I still got a long summer ahead of me. But definitely looking forward to the future.”

With his health improving, Ball shared a lofty expectation for his progress.

“I firmly believe that,” Ball said when asked if he expects to suit up for the Bulls this season. “That’s the plan that I’m on and I haven’t had any setbacks. I expect to play the first game.”

Returning to the floor would be an incredible, historic achievement for Ball. Seemingly, no athlete has returned to competition from an injury to the degree of Ball’s.

It would be an indelible moment for the Bulls.

This is undoubtedly the closest Ball has come to returning to an NBA floor in 2.5 years. There were early instances in Ball’s rehab when he couldn’t perform everyday tasks without pain, such as walking up stairs or jumping.

It’s a pivotal offseason for Ball, who’s going into the final year of the four-year deal he struck with the Bulls in the summer of 2021. In the first week of May, Ball assured that, picking up his player option worth $21.3 million on the last year of his contract.

On the radio with 670 The Score during the first week of April, Ball’s father, LaVar, projected his son has 4-to-5 months before he can play 5-on-5 basketball with full contact. A four-month timeline from LaVar’s projection slates Lonzo to return around August; a return closer to five months would put him in early September.

Either of those dates puts him in line to be ready to go when the regular season starts in October.

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