Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Pacers' Caris LeVert trusting God after discovering mass: 'This trade could've possibly saved me'

New Indiana Pacers wing Caris LeVert is choosing to focus on the positive aspect of the small mass that was recently discovered on his kidney: Had LeVert not been sent to the Pacers as part of the James Harden trade and undergone a physical, the mass might not have been discovered.

It is not an exaggeration to say the trade may have saved LeVert’s life.

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“I didn’t have any symptoms. I was playing in games. I hadn’t missed any games this season yet. I was feeling 100 percent healthy,” he told ESPN. “So, in a way, this trade definitely showed and revealed what was going on in my body; so I’m definitely looking at it from that side and definitely humbled to know that this trade could’ve possibly saved me in the long run.”

Before the trade, LeVert was averaging 18.5 points and a career-high 6.0 assists for the star-studded Brooklyn Nets. Even with the addition of Kevin Durant, his numbers were comparable — and in some cases better — than the ones he put up in 2019-20, easily the most productive of his first four seasons in the NBA.

The 26-year-old is no stranger to adversity, though. LeVert’s father, Darryl LeVert Sr., passed away from heart failure in 2010 at the age of 46. His mother, Kim LeVert, has multiple sclerosis.

On the court, LeVert’s battled injuries throughout his career, including a dislocated foot that limited him to 45 games last season. He recovered in time to participate in the NBA bubble and was the Nets’ leading scorer and assist man in their four playoff games, averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 assists.

When the injury occurred, the former Michigan Wolverine drew confidence and encouragement from his relationship with God.

“I just feel like God wouldn’t bring me this far to let something like that stop me from playing the game,” he said in a February interview with the New York Daily News. “I always feel like I’m supposed to be where I am. That was just a roadblock to get me from where I wanna go.”

It is still unclear whether the mass is cancerous and how long LeVert will be sidelined. He and the Pacers are waiting for more test results before deciding on a plan.

“This organization’s gonna step up, help him get through this, get him back on the court,” Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said in the same ESPN story. “I’m super confident that we’re gonna have him on the court.”

For now, LeVert is staying as positive as possible and trusting in God.

“I have a lot of faith in God,” he told ESPN. “I know that everything is not perfect, but I feel like, in life, it’s just how you react to certain things. It’s not what happens to you.”

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