“Words cant define how i feel about tucson. I love you all thanks for all of your support thru these tough times.” — Kevin Parrom, on Twitter, Wednesday night.
Arizona Wildcats basketball player Kevin Parrom has bullet fragments in his upper right leg. His grandmother died this summer. His mother is fighting a two-year battle against cancer and is “critically ill,” according to UA coach Sean Miller.
Nobody knows when Parrom can play basketball again. Maybe this season. Maybe not.
“I’m grateful for being able to walk,” he said Wednesday.
He is about 2,500 miles away from his home in the Bronx, N.Y., where he was shot Sept. 24 while on a trip to visit his mother. Bullets injured his right leg and his left hand. Through all the troubles, all the worries, he is comfortably home here in the desert.
When everyone would have understood if he had taken a pass, Parrom participated in Arizona basketball Media Day on Wednesday.
He talked in general terms about the shooting — “your life flashes by you,” he said — and he playfully answered a question about what keeps him sane these days, responding, “I’m always going to be sane. I’m not crazy.”
He was more serious when talking about the influence of Miller in his life. Parrom, remember, had committed to Miller at Xavier before joining the coach at Arizona in the summer of 2009.
“He’s kind of been like a stepfather,” Parrom said.
“Coach Miller has been here. He has been helping me and guiding me through this tough time right now. I don’t think without him I’d be going through the days.
“I knew that,” he added, asked if he suspected Miller could be more than just a coach to him. “That’s why I made the decision to leave Xavier to come to Arizona. That’s nothing new to me. I knew the kind of person he was.”
Miller is mostly working outside of the coaching manual these days with Parrom. Having a player shot isn’t a typical situation. He and Parrom and the trainers are dealing with an unconventional injury that doesn’t have a standard rehab time.
“You really just try to be there and guide the process,” Miller said.
“In Kevin’s case, we’re fortunate he has such a great family behind him. The fact that he was able to get back here to Tucson as quickly as he did had no bearing on his health. It had a lot more to do with his family’s faith in what we do here.
“When Kevin is surrounded by his teammates and coaches, and is able go to class, be around the students of Arizona, be surrounded by community, that’s when he is at his best. That allows him to have the best chance to be successful.”
Arizona must prepare as if it won’t have Parrom, at least for a while, which would be a blow to a team that will be built on balance, depth and defense. The 6-foot-6 wing is a key part of all that.
Parrom averaged 7.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season, playing about 20 minutes per game. There might not be a prettier Arizona basketball sight than Parrom grabbing a defensive rebound and gliding down the court for a fast-break finish. He also shot 41.8 percent from 3-point range.
This season projected to be even better.
“I worked extremely hard,” he said of his summer preparations.
“I mean, everybody says they work hard during the summer. But I was here grinding — and I want to say grinding — every day with a few other guys. We were grinding to get to the Final Four. Words can’t describe how hard I worked this whole summer.”
And, now, uncertainty.
“Right now, I’m taking it day by day,” Parrom said.
“Can’t really say I’m going to be back. Can’t really say it’s going to be really quick or really long. It’s a process. I could be back next week, could be back a month from now. Don’t really know.”
In any case, he said the shooting, as might be expected, has changed his perspective, making him even more passionate for what he has — life, basketball and family, the one in New York and the one in Tucson.
So while basketball players all over the country will say something similar at their Media Day, perhaps Parrom means this most of all:
“Happy to be here,” he said.
For more about the shooting and Parrom’s rehab, check out Bruce Pascoe’s stories at azstarnet.com: