In a season that would include 17 losses, on the surface Purdue’s 76-57 loss at Nebraska on February 23 would represent nothing more than another tough night for Matt Painter’s young basketball team. However there were two losses on that night for the Purdue program to digest: the game itself, and redshirt freshman Jay Simpson having his playing career come to an end.
In the second half of that game the 6-foot-10 Simpson collapsed, momentarily losing consciousness. Medical tests in the days that followed the game revealed that Simpson had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, with the thickening of the heart muscles that occurs as a result of the disorder making the organ work harder to pump blood. And for Simpson, who visited three different doctors in hopes of hearing something different, this meant that he could no longer play the game he loved.
Marcus Jackson of the Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette wrote a story about Simpson and his dealing with life after basketball, an existence that includes his girlfriend and their young son who was born on July 2. Still on scholarship at Purdue, Simpson is working towards earning his degree and raising his young family.
In West Lafayette, at the apartment he and Shelby share — she’s a student at nearby Ivy Tech — Simpson hangs with Kye at every turn: holding him, playing with him, trying to make him giggle.
“He has changed me a lot. He gives me hope, gives me energy,” Simpson said. “Some days I wake up and I just don’t want to do anything, but I see him and I have to. I don’t want him to grow up struggling.”
This is a really good story on a young athlete adjusting to a sudden change in life, with the sport he’d played for so long now off limits for health reasons. The full story can be read here.