UNC Asheville center Kenny George, who rose to prominence last season because of his tremendous height and steady performance, will most likely not play basketball again in his collegiate career after having part of his right foot amputated.
"This just breaks our heart," said coach Dave VanderMeulen of Chicago Latin, where George played in high school.
"I've talked to Kenny, and he's dealing with what kind of mountain he's facing and reflecting on what could have been...his parents are trying to keep his spirits up, but they are devastated, as any parents would whose child lost part of a limb."
In August, George came back home from Pete Newell's Big Man Camp with MRSA -- a difficult-to-treat staph infection -- in his foot. He was then hospitalized and underwent several surgeries to save both his foot and his life. Three weeks ago, doctors decided to amputate part of the foot.
George was the Big South defensive player of the year. The would-be senior averaged 12.4 points and seven rebounds last season but could only average 20 minutes of playing time.
UNC Asheville senior Kenny George recently had part of his right foot amputated, according to ESPN.com. The 7-foot-7 center is college basketball's tallest player, but the amputation -- which was the result of George's battle with a staph infection -- will likely end his playing career.
Chuck Liddy, Raleigh News & Observer/MCT
George put up 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks against North Carolina in a game last season. UNC's Tyler Hansbrough, right, didn't back down from the towering center in their showdown. Hansbrough keyed UNC's victory with a momentum-shifting slam over George -- the first time someone had ever dunked against him in at least three years, George said. Watch Dunk
Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images
George drew praise from UNC head coach and Asheville native Roy Williams for his defensive intensity in the loss. "He blocked a couple of shots, but he changed about a million," Williams said.
Sara D. Davis, AP
The Chicago native had indicated mixed feelings about his impressive height in the past. "I don't hate it, but there are times I wish that I weren't so tall," George told the New York Times in an interview this year.
Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon had plenty of praise for George's talent and ability near the basket during a game last season. "We tried not to go under the basket when he's in, because it's useless," the coach said.
Brett Flashnick, AP
Thanks to his tall frame, George was able to dunk and tip passes in without having to leave his feet. He has a wingspan of over 100 inches as well.
George used specially-designed shoes for his size 26 feet when he played basketball -- modifying Shaquille O'Neal's size 23 footwear to fit his feet. Source: AP, New York Times, ESPN.com, MSNBC