He’s grateful for every moment on the court.
Former Lincoln basketball star Travis Charles was nine games into his first season at the University at Albany last year when he was diagnosed with acute pericarditis, an inflammation of sac surrounding his heart. The Flatbush native didn’t know what to think when he heard the news, terrified of the words “heart condition,” but after deciding to redshirt his junior year, Charles knew he only had one option — get back in the game.
“It was very hard at the time because I’ve never had any prior health issues or major health issues like that,” Charles said. “And then finding out that what I really had was something so serious was tough. I had a lot of sleepless nights. But I had support from my coaches and my family and I knew I could come back.”
Charles couldn’t do anything physical after his diagnosis — sitting on the end of the Great Danes bench for the remainder of the season. He didn’t get back into the gym until late March and trying to literally get up to speed was a brand-new challenge.
Charles wasn’t used to ever feeling out of shape when he was on the court and he struggled to stick to a workout schedule, but he knew there were no shortcuts when it came to doing this right.
“It went from completely nothing and then trying to work out again,” Charles said. “I had basically had to start from the bottom. And it was baby steps. That was always frustrating, but I realized that was the process.”
Charles worked throughout the off-season to be ready for the Great Danes’ schedule this winter and while it was a, sometimes, difficult journey he found comfort in focusing on the things he could control. He couldn’t control his diagnosis or his breathing level while running sprints, but he could control his effort and, in the end, that was the difference.
“I knew it was going to take me awhile to get back, but I had to just do it,” Charles said. “There are plenty of people in worse positions than me, I just had to rise back up.”
Charles took the long way to Division I basketball — playing a season of prep basketball after graduating from Lincoln and spending two years at the junior college level — and he wasn’t going to give up on his dream at U-Albany without a fight.
This is a team he wanted to be part of as soon as he stepped on campus and one more challenge wasn’t going to stop him from suiting up again.
“Basketball-wise, they’re a great team,” he said. “And they’ve got a winning way up here. I wanted to be part of that.”
In his first nine games this season, Charles averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in a bit more than 14 minutes of work. It’s still a work in progress and he’s still trying to get back to peak physical form, but Charles isn’t taking anything for granted. He’s simply happy to be back.
“I’m just thankful for every moment. I thank God for every moment I have because I wasn’t sure if I’d get back on the team,” Charles said. “I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.”