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Sports Illustrated: The Game Of His Life

Friday, December 12, 2008

A BLESSING. EVEN now, three months after the accident that nearly claimed his life, Don Meyer calls it a blessing. "You can't look at it any other way," he says. It was a blessing to crash into a semi that was carrying 90,000 pounds of grain while driving to a team retreat on Sept. 5. It was a blessing to lose his left leg below the knee, to endure eight surgeries, to spend weeks in the hospital fighting pain so intense that he would croak church hymns as tears streamed down his face. It was a blessing, Meyer says, and here's why: If the wreck hadn't happened, if the doctors hadn't performed emergency surgery to remove his spleen and reattach his diaphragm, they wouldn't have discovered the cancer burrowing into his liver and small intestine until it was too late.

It was a blessing to survive, to know what he's facing and now, more than anything else, to coach again. "I just wonder sometimes because I shouldn't be here," says Meyer, the coach at Division II Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., the man who, with 898 career victories at week's end, needs just five wins to pass Bob Knight as the alltime leader among NCAA men's basketball coaches. "There's no realistic way I should be here right now, when you get down to it, unless there's something I've still got to do."

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