British teenager who was paralysed from waist down becomes basketball star

A British teenager who was told she would never play sports again has defied the odds to become a basketball star.

Grace Roberts became paralysed from the waist down when her muscles started ‘liquifying’ as a child. 

She has since been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome – a rare condition where the immune system attacks the peripheral nerves, which can cause paralysis. But, for a long time, Grace wasn’t sure what her condition was. 

Grace said: ‘It’s crazy to think that something I didn’t know about has impacted my life so much. Every time I tried to walk I’d just collapse which was frustrating as an active person.

‘I couldn’t even get up from the living room to go to the kitchen to get a drink without feeling uncertain if I’d get there – I’d have to hold the wall to keep stable.

‘I didn’t really know what it was at first and I always kept saying I was fine because I didn’t want to be in hospital.’

In 2016, her condition worsened and Grace was rushed to hospital after losing feeling in her legs.

Grace’s mum Emma said: ‘GBS is so rare that the physio team said that Grace was the third child in Doncaster that they’ve ever treated for it and we were so shocked.

‘Grace was then monitored constantly for her oxygen levels as she could have stopped breathing at any moment which was very worrying.

‘She was also paralysed from the waist down and her arms were very weak, meaning she couldn’t sit up properly or hold anything.

‘Her muscles were basically liquifying so when she sat, everything just hung and it was very painful for her.’

The 17-year-old says it was hard to hear from doctors that she wouldn’t be able to participate in sport again.

She said: ‘I’d still try to go to basketball to see my friends play but it was hard to watch them because I thought I should be doing that but I just couldn’t.’

After five exhausting months of rehab in her wheelchair, Grace astounded doctors by going on to play basketball. 

She now plays for the Sheffield Hatters – a prestigious semi-professional club which participates in the historic National Basketball League.

Grace adds: ‘I feel like rehab felt longer than it actually was – it took five months for me to get out of a wheelchair which was quite quick but I had to use crutches afterwards.

‘I just want to share my story to help others now.’

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