Summer 2024

Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland reunites with firefighters, thanks God for unforgettable night

For Denver Nuggets rookie guard Bones Hyland, Monday’s 114-110 road victory over the Philadelphia 76ers was special. Not because he scored 21 points and grabbed four rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench, or because he poured in four fourth-quarter 3-pointers as the Nuggets erased a 19-point deficit.

Monday’s game was special for Hyland because of who was in attendance to see his incredible performance.

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Nearly four years ago, on March 25, 2018, Hyland (then a high school junior) was forced to jump out of a second-story window as flames engulfed his Wilmington, Delaware, home, tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee. His baby cousin and his grandmother passed away in the fire. Hyland survived, but was told his basketball career may be over.

Six months later as Hyland healed emotionally and physically, he was back on the court and being sought after by Division-I programs. After two seasons at VCU (Virginia Commonwealth), one in which he won the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Hyland declared for the NBA draft. Denver selected him with the No. 26 overall pick last July.

Basketball has taken Hyland further than many thought possible after that fateful March four years ago. Yet that traumatic experience has forged a bond between Hyland and the firefighters and first responders who saved his life that day.

On Monday in Philadelphia, those same firefighters were on hand to watch Hyland’s heroics, as were several hundred other friends and family from Wilmington. Monday’s game in Philadelphia was close enough that many could make the trip.

“Every time I check into the game I do a cross across my chest just to be thankful that I still am in this position just to play basketball because doctors told me four years ago I’d never play basketball again,” Hyland said after the game, according to ESPN. “So that’s something that I thank the Lord for keeping me here and keeping me going. That’s something I play for each and every day.

“I try to go out there and play with joy and that swag and just be me at all times.”

Hyland and the firefighters were able to share a special moment before the game, in which they presented him with a custom Wilmington Fire Department jacket.

Hyland was asked in his postgame press conference about his bond with those firefighters and what they did to save his life. The question brought him to tears and he was unable to respond.

The morning after Hyland’s unforgettable performance, he took to Twitter to reflect on how God was at work in his life to sustain him through trials and lead him to the NBA.

His tweet said in part, “THANKFUL for you my LORD who bought me out of the worst situations! They told me I wasn’t gonna be able to play basketball again.. God had other PLANS.”

Tuesday morning wasn’t the first time Hyland has spoken about his faith on social media. This tweet is pinned to his Twitter page:

Hyland’s NBA career is off to a promising start, as he’s averaging 9.1 points per game as a rookie. Yet, he knows every minute on the court is a gift from God.

Hyland has secured a spot in the rotation for a team that finished third in the Western Conference last season and currently sits in sixth place this season with a 41-28 record. He hopes to continue his stellar play in Denver’s next game as an east coast tour continues on Wednesday. The Nuggets are set to play the Washington Wizards (29-38) at 7 p.m. ET.

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