07-22-2005, 06:59 PM
[b]July 22, 2005 |
Lakers second-round draft pick Ronny Turiaf has been diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root and needs open-heart surgery that could end his playing career, The Orange County Register reported last night.
Turiaf, 22, is expected to undergo surgery in the next 4-6 weeks. If doctors deem during surgery that his aortic valve must be replaced, he will not be allowed to play basketball again. Otherwise, it's conceivable Turiaf could recover and perhaps even play for the Lakers in the 2006-07 season.
"He's obviously disappointed," Lakers spokesman John Black said. "It's safe to say that he's concerned and anxious."
Black said doctors told the team Turiaf was facing a 75 percent chance of having a "serious episode, potentially fatal episode, just through everyday living," within three to four years without surgery.
Turiaf, a 6-foot-10 power forward from Gonzaga who was the WCC Player of the Year last season, is to speak to reporters today.
Black said Turiaf's contract, a two-year deal signed July 13, should be voided, with the Lakers retaining Turiaf's future rights. If permitted by the NBA, the Lakers intend to pay Turiaf's medical bills.
The Lakers drafted Turiaf with knowledge of some heart abnormality. Black said doctors at the NBA predraft camp in Chicago in early June diagnosed Turiaf with a dilated aortic root, but did not conclude it should prevent Turiaf from playing.
"By the doctors finding this, we feel we probably saved his life," Black said.
:( This bums me out. Ronny Turiaf was alwasy exciting to watch a force to contend with on the court, and I couldn't wait to see him play in the bigs... Best of luck to you, Ronny.