You may remember A.J. Moye from his block of Carlos Boozer in Indiana's upset of No. 1 seeded Duke in the 2002 NCAA tournament, the year the Hoosiers made an unlikely run to the precipice of a national title under Mike Davis, Bob Knight's embattled successor. Indiana fans certainly do. Moye was a fan favorite in Bloomington; his determination, aggression and willingness to play in the low block despite his lack of size earned him seemingly endless "A-J-Moy-yay" chants throughout his four years in the program.
It was that size that prevented Moye from pursuing a pro career in the U.S. Instead, the former Hoosier went overseas, where he has excelled in Finland and elsewhere. Most recently, Moye had been plying his trade in Germany for the Deutsche Bank Skyliners Frankfurt.
That's when disaster struck. Last November, Moye was struck on the temple during a practice. He was out cold for 20 minutes, but finished the practice. Later that evening, he struggled to communicate with his stepfather on a phone conversation, and he was taken to the hospital for "intensive examinations." After a few days, the doctor made his diagnosis. Moye had suffered a stroke.
Peegs.com writer Jeff Rabjohns caught up with Moye at an Indianapolis Pro-Am tournament recently. The result is must-read stuff. Moye describes his injury in detail -- the right side of his body is still affected by the stroke -- and talks about how difficult it has been to forever abandon the most important part of his life: basketball.
"I was trying to dribble. I thought maybe I just can't wake up or something. I was telling guys on my team I was feeling this way and they were like, 'Oh, he's drunk or something,' even though I'm never drunk but I'm always a character," Moye said. "I saw Marco and told him, 'Man, it feels like I'm dying or something, something's really wrong. Then the ambulance came. That was Tuesday. I woke up on Thursday."
[...] "I'm still me. I can still make a great move, but the right side of my body doesn't feel like me," Moye said. "And honestly, man, nothing's worth dying for. But to me, it almost was worth dying for. I had to look up and say, 'Am I going to die trying to play basketball?' The answer's no. Now it's about finding myself, finding what I could be comfortable doing for the rest of my life. The end of the road happened five or six years earlier than I'd have liked."
There's plenty more where that come from, and it would be bad form to excerpt too much of it here. Moye's struggle goes beyond Indiana and beyond basketball; it's about mortality, the shelter of professional life, and what we do when those things unfairly come crashing down around us.
Plus, if you're one of those people that watches classic basketball games and thinks "Hey, whatever happened to that guy?" well, now you know. In Moye's case, the answering is incredibly compelling.