After shooting, loss of mom, a slow reentry for Arizona's Parrom

by | College Basketball Insider

Losing his mother to cancer is the latest tragedy to befall Arizona's Kevin Parrom. (Getty Images)  
Losing his mother to cancer is the latest tragedy to befall Arizona's Kevin Parrom. (Getty Images)  

Kevin Parrom's last words to his mother likely came via text message.

"She's not able to talk," Arizona's junior told just days before Lisa Williams' death Sunday night. "I text her every day."

It's difficult to imagine what Parrom has endured over the past month.

A native of Bronx, N.Y., he was kept in the dark about the severity of his mother's illness by his parents until just a few months ago, shortly after his grandmother's death -- also of cancer.

"She told me, 'I can't hide it from you anymore,'" Parrom said. "She told me flat-out what it was. I had no idea it had gotten that bad."

Parrom's mother had what basically amounted to a last wish when she asked Arizona coach Sean Miller if her son could return to New York just before the start of the season.

"I usually don't go home at all, but my mother asked to see me," Parrom said. "She usually keeps me away because she wants me to focus on basketball and academics."

"But she wanted to tell me face to face," he added.

Miller obliged, understanding there was a chance Parrom might not see his mother again.

"It was the right thing to do," Miller said.

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So Parrom hopped on a red-eye flight from Phoenix and had to wait a couple hours for his father to pick him up and take him to the hospital.

When Parrom walked into the room, he did all he could to not break down.

"It was tough because I'd never seen her in the hospital," he said. "She wasn't able to breathe. But I had to stay strong. For her."

Parrom spent the entire day -- Sept. 24 -- by his mother's side before leaving around 6 p.m. to connect with a longtime friend. It was a girl he said he has known for about 10 years, and they met at his father's apartment in the Bronx. It was then that two men -- one apparently the jealous boyfriend -- broke down the door.

Parrom wound up being shot in the leg and his left hand.

"My leg went numb," Parrom said. "I felt pain for a quick second, but then my whole leg went numb."

Parrom spent the next two days at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx before returning to Tucson without any feeling from his right knee down to his toes.

"I woke up in the morning just happy to be here," Parrom said. "I wasn't thinking about basketball. It was a blessing just to be able to breathe."

Jason Gonzalez, the shooter, was caught shortly after and has been charged with attempted murder.

Parrom had to return to New York briefly again to identify Gonzalez, but his focus was clearly on his mother and also on what she wanted -- for him to try to get back on the court for the start of the season.

"I'm showing improvement," he said. "But honestly, I'm just happy to be here."

Parrom added: "I can't dwell on this. I know that sounds tough, but that's not what my mom wants. She'd be mad at me."

Parrom showed up for Arizona's media day last week with a bandage on three fingers and a brace that helps keep his foot up. He participated in hopes of blending in with his teammates, an effort to just be one of the guys again.

Miller said that with the departure of Derrick Williams, Parrom was set to be one of the go-to guys on this year's team.

Now Miller is more focused on making certain that Parrom is ready -- both emotionally and physically.

"We're cautiously optimistic Kevin will return to the court this year," Miller said. "He's made great progress, but we don't know what that means yet. Maybe he'll be back for the first game, maybe for the Pac-12 opener or maybe he won't be back this season. It's too early to tell."

But what is clear is that Parrom's life will change. It already has.

He, along with Miller and the doctors, remain hopeful Parrom will take to the court again soon. The wound has healed, and he's begun to jog in a pool.

Parrom has two bullet fragments in his upper leg. They will remain forever.

So will his memories of his mother.


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