Josh Speidel scores first Vermont basket five years after near-fatal car crash

Josh Speidel scores first Vermont basket five years after near-fatal car crash

One shining moment came early this March.

A 2015 car accident left a three-star recruit in a coma for five weeks with a traumatic brain injury and little hope from the doctors regarding his future.

Five years later, on Tuesday, Josh Speidel made his long-awaited college basketball debut on senior night at Vermont.

“I did it, I’m a college basketball player,” Speidel said after the Catamounts’ 85-62 win over Albany, according to ESPN. “I scored in a college basketball game.

“You can’t take that away from me. I’m just so forever grateful.”

Speidel got the start and scored Vermont’s first points of the game on a layup with 19:40 left. The moment was prearranged with Albany, which won the tip and scored before Speidel took the spotlight on the other end of the court.

After Speidel’s bucket, play stopped as he got a standing ovation and hugs from teammates and opponents. Vermont coach John Becker was in tears as he embraced Speidel on his way to the bench.

Josh Speidel with his parents Dave and Lisa in his high school gym in 2016
Josh Speidel with his parents, Dave and Lisa, in his high school gym in 2016NCAA Photos via Getty Images

“I think back to five years ago, I didn’t even know I would make it home from the hospital,” Speidel said, per the Burlington Free Press.

When he was a senior in high school in Indiana, Speidel got into a car accident on the night of the Super Bowl in 2015. His parents raced to the hospital, where doctors told them that Speidel had nearly been killed. While Speidel was in the coma, doctors told his parents to be prepared for him to live in a vegetative state, that he would need 24-hour care for the rest of his life and never read above a fourth-grade level, according to ESPN.

Instead, Speidel defied the odds and became a viral star by the end of Tuesday night.

“At the beginning of the year, I made it a goal of mine to be out there on Senior Night,” Speidel said on ESPN’s “Golic & Wingo” Wednesday morning. “Just past couple of days we went through the scenarios of what could happen. I want to thank the other seniors for letting me experience this and Albany.”

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