The WNBA star revealed that she learned to walk again after an umbilical spine tumor

  • Diamond DeShields was a rising star in the WNBA before doctors discovered a tumor in her spine.
  • After undergoing surgery, the guard had to learn to walk again – she recounted ESPN’s Holly Rowe.
  • Now a WNBA champion, DeShields is “looking forward” and enjoying a fresh start with Phoenix Mercury.

Diamond DeShields made their first WNBA All-Star game in only their second season in the league.

Six months later, she found herself on the operating room table. And the next day, the ridiculously athletic winger with seemingly unlimited upside faced the monumental task of learning how to walk again.

No one outside her circle knew what had happened. The public believed she had a routine knee injury. But ahead of the 2022 WNBA season — her first with Phoenix Mercury — DeShields shared her story with the world. exclusive a report ESPN’s Holly Rowe About “Out of Lines”.

Diamond DeShields.

The DeShields play in the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game.

Stephen R. Sylvani USA Today Sports

“[I’ve been] “I’ve been living for the past two years, knowing I’ve been struggling a lot and trying to go out and play and perform as if nothing was going on,” DeShields said during a Mercury press conference after the clip aired. That’s what’s being talked about and taken out, I can put it behind me.”

While playing abroad in Italy after her 2019 All-Star season with Chicago Sky, DeShields experienced an ordinary shock from a competitor and immediately felt a pain in her back. The MRI revealed something far worse than anything I had thought to fear: a spinal cord tumor.

Her season ended there. If the lump is not removed, you could suffer serious complications, including paralysis. But there were risks of paralysis in removing the tumor, too. Regardless, she had to tackle the problem.

Diamond DeShields.


AP Photo / Paul Petty

After a nine-hour surgery, doctors at the University of Chicago successfully removed the growth. But the operation left damage to some of DeShield’s nerves — particularly those leading up to her feet.

At first, even the feeling of a bed sheet or socks on her feet was too painful to bear. She also suffered from convulsions throughout her body and shivers that left her uncontrollable in her extremities.

But after an intense non-stop rehab, DeShields worked her way back to her feet. And just a month after DeShields underwent surgery, WNBA legend Sue Bird remembered seeing her at the NBA All-Star Game in Chicago for a WNBA photo shoot and was able to “feel like she was going a little slower.”

Diamond DeShields.


AP Photo / Mark Black

“At that point, no one knew she was just starting to walk,” Bird told Insider during a recent Seattle Storm media briefing. “She told us the whole story, showed us all her videos of her in her hospital bed unable to control her muscles, she told us how exhausting it was, videos of her starting to walk and what that looked like…

“It was very shocking to see such an elite athlete who is now unable to walk, unable to control the muscles in her body and suffering from such uncontrollable spasms,” she continued. “We were all in shock, honestly, but so impressed.”

After spending months of hard work in physical therapy, reconnecting with her body, and wondering if a return to professional basketball was possible, DeShields returned to the court for the 2020 WNBA bubble season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. But, as Baird notes, “she wasn’t the same” when she first got back into play.

Diamond DeShields in the 2020 WNBA bubble.

Diamond DeShields in the 2020 WNBA bubble.

AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack

Shown in her stats. A year into an All-Star campaign in which all 34 games started and box points cashed in every time, the DeShields came off the bench and averaged just 6.8 points in 17 minutes per competition in their shortened return. Without the context of her debilitating injury, fans and media alike criticized her play.

“It was sad for me personally to see how people responded to it, especially in the bubble, because it wasn’t the same,” Baird said. “It just shows you, whether it’s media [or] Fans, I could only imagine what people were saying about her and her play, and you literally never know.”

DeShields left the bubble after sustaining a hip injury in August. But with extra work during the slump, she’s been able to take other steps with her body and contribute to a double-digit record throughout the 2021 Sky Championship season.

Diamond DeShields are having a moment with the WNBA Championship Trophy.

The DeShields are having a moment with the WNBA Championship Trophy.

Matt Marton USA Today Sports

Now, the ridiculously athletic winger with seemingly unlimited height is enjoying a fresh start with the Phoenix Mercury, which it traded in in February. And while she’s comfortable with people discussing her injury and subsequent trip to hardwood, DeShields says she’s personally more interested in “looking forward.”

In her first game for her new team, the young star scored 12 points and four assists in 25 minutes on the ground – helping Mercury win a massive win over Birds Storm.

“Diamonds are a special, special talent,” said Baird. “The first two years of her life in the league showed that. I mean, she was an All-Star by year two, and she was on her way. I think a lot of people would have accepted her on the national team and the Olympic team. And I would frame her as an All-Star for years to come just To have, you know, this scenario kind of derail it all….

Diamond DeShields guard legendary WNBA protector Sue Bird.

DeShields Sue Bird guards the legendary WNBA Points.

Kate Friese/NBAE via Getty Images

“For you to be able to get her back on the field, I think as a human being, you’d be happy to see someone get back to normal and healthy after going through something like that,” she continued. “She showed us these videos, I mean, they shocked me. It was so hard to watch and see them in those videos…

“It’s amazing to see her tell her story to share – you’ll help others by sharing it,” Baird added. “It’s also great to see her just come back to a happy place and feel healthy.”