By Redunda Noble
MEMPHIS — Watching Laura Spradlin drain 3-pointers and block shots, it’s hard to believe a car crash nearly took her life.
Driving alone on her way to school, Spradlin was severely injured when her car collided with a pickup truck at a Memphis-area intersection Jan. 22, 2014. Despite doctors’ low expectations, Spradlin aimed to stay positive amid the rigors of her recovery.
“Rehab was my opportunity,” she said. “Whenever they told me to walk for five minutes, I asked if I could walk a mile.”
News of the accident initially devastated her parents. “On the way to the hospital, we prayed for God to spare her life,” said Mike Spradlin, president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova. “She was only 17 and I prayed she wouldn’t be in a wheelchair the rest of her life,” he added.
Though the idea of losing their only daughter and youngest of their three children was heart-wrenching, Spradlin’s mother Lee Ann rejected fear that tried to set in. The Lord immediately reminded her “Laura was right with Him no matter what happened.”
Laura was in critical but stable condition when her parents first saw her. Strapped in a neck brace, her left eye was swollen shut. Still in a coma, she suffered from massive brain bleeding and a fracture in which part of her face had separated from her skull. She had multiple other injuries, including a severed leg tendon and dislocated elbow.
Although on heavy medication, Laura turned a corner just four days after the accident.
In subsequent days and weeks, word spread of the accident. “So many people wanted to visit Laura and help us,” Lee Ann Spradlin said. “We were overwhelmed by the support,” she said.
“We are so grateful for the body of Christ,” her mother said. “The family of God was there to help us with whatever we needed.” The Spradlins are members of Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett.
After four weeks in the hospital, 11 surgeries and months of rehab, Spradlin returned to basketball with flair and vigor. At almost 6-foot-2, not being able to play basketball was torture. “I couldn’t run for months because of my injuries,” Spradlin said. “But I knew I needed to try my hardest because I really wanted to play again.”
She shocked everyone in her first game by shooting a 3-pointer. Her game, now bolstered by a six-day-a-week workout regimen, had changed — and everyone could see it, especially intimidated opponents who don’t think she can shoot because she’s tall.
Spradlin’s most striking change, however, is her relationship with Christ. “God taught me to trust Him more,” she said, reflecting a joy in sharing her testimony. “When I was in the hospital, everything was taken away. I couldn’t walk, or play the piano or play basketball.”
With no guarantee she would recover, Spradlin focused on the Lord. “He was all I needed to be happy and fulfilled,” she said. “And once I got everything back, I realized I didn’t need those things as much as I thought.”
This fall, Spradlin will be a power forward for Ouachita Baptist University’s Lady Tigers in Arkadelphia, Ark., her spot on the team secured by an impressive tryout.
Despite her achievement, Spradlin cautions young people against becoming fixated on sports, friends and their social lives. “We can make those things our god and push our spiritual life to the side,” she said.
“In the scope of things, your soul is what really matters. When I almost died, I learned what was really important.”