- Associated Press - Monday, December 20, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Julian Boyd heard the words no young athlete ever should. Doctors told him to stop playing basketball, and they weren’t sure when or if he would play again.

Boyd is a strapping 6-foot-7 forward for Long Island University who had decided to leave San Antonio and play college basketball in Brooklyn.

Then he was told he had a heart condition known as noncompaction cardiomyopathy _ part of his heart was enlarged. He learned of it from an MRI that was taken when he became dehydrated and experienced some kidney failure.

His life was about to change dramatically.

“He wasn’t allowed to do anything,” LIU trainer Danny O'Connor said. “In the spring they allowed some light weightlifting. Then he was cleared in July. He’s been taking medication and his heart’s working normally. He’s never had any heart pain or chest pains, no cardiac symptoms during this time.”

That’s what frustrated the 20-year-old player most during his year away.

“It was hard being told you have to sit out when you don’t feel anything’s wrong,” Boyd said. “It’s not like someone who breaks their arm or leg or tears their ACL. They feel pain and know they can’t play. I felt like I’m ready to play and they’re not letting me play the sport I played almost my whole life. I thought I could play, but the doctors thought otherwise and that meant a long year.”

When Boyd was told he couldn’t play it was just a few months after he was honored as the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year after averaging 10.5 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Blackbirds.

“There were several days Julian and I cried in my office,” LIU coach Jim Ferry said. “I wasn’t crying because I wouldn’t have him as a player. I was crying for the kid.”

Tests over the summer would decide if Boyd was going to have a sophomore season.

“As each test came along and they wouldn’t clear him it would devastate him even more,” the coach said.

Ferry knew a lot about crying over someone’s else’s heart.

“My backcourt mate at Keene State died a year after we got out of college because of a massive heart attack,” Ferry said, referring to Johnny Jennings. “He never got to be in my wedding. He had a congenital defect they never knew about. I have his picture in my office and I explained to Julian, ‘I don’t want to have your picture in my office.’

“I tried to explain to Julian that there’s a lot more in life than basketball. When you’re young you don’t understand that. We had some tough, emotional days. He felt nothing was wrong with him. I was informed by security people in the building that he was coming in at night and working out and getting into pickup games and I had to tell Julian, ‘You can’t do that. Let’s get through the process.’ That’s tough for a kid.”

During his season off, Boyd spent his time around basketball and his teammates.

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