Lady Vols' Gray recovering after brain surgery

Amber Gray underwent left shoulder surgery July 2 at St. Mary's Medical Center to repair her posterior capsule and labrum.

Nobody knew at the time that the procedure essentially would save the University of Tennessee women's basketball player's life.

Post-surgery complications ensued, resulting in tests and the discovery of an aneurysm in the brain that was beginning to hemorrhage, said Gray's mother, Tonya Carter.

Gray, 19, underwent a 12 1/2- hour surgical procedure last week at the University of Cincinnati's Neuroscience Institute. She has since been moved to a rehabilitation center and has started down the road to recovery.

'A lot of people are born with aneurysms and they don't find out until it's too late,'' Carter said Monday. 'Honestly, this could've been a situation where it could've been too little, too late.'

Carter said Gray, a high school All-American from West Chester, Ohio, was moved to Cincinnati not because it was close to home but rather for the institute's expertise. Carter and family members were given regular updates during the marathon surgery, which started Monday, July 20, and lasted into the early morning hours the next day. Still, the anxiety and uncertainty persisted.

'You really don't know what to expect,'' Carter said. 'They don't know what to expect.'

Gray woke up on her own after the surgery and, according to Carter, said she was thirsty and asked, 'Where's my mom?'

'This is someone who has an amazing spirit,' said Carter of her daughter, who played in 27 games as a freshman last season for the Lady Vols. 'When I feel like I'm losing control, she'll look at me and say, ‘It's going to be OK.' '

Carter said her daughter helped set a light-hearted tone for a post-surgery visit from Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt by saying, 'I'll open (my eyes) but I don't want to look straight ahead because I'll be looking into the eyes of my coach.'

And when she entered the Drake Rehabilitation Center in Cincinnati, Carter said that her daughter stated her intentions clearly: 'My goal is to get up and get out of here. Whatever it takes.'

While Carter is encouraged, she said there's no timetable for the recovery.

Carter referred to Gray's father, Carlton, in saying: 'As her parents, we were praying for her life. Now we're praying for quality of life.'

Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288.

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Comments » 53

arvolfan writes:

Praying for you, Amber

jr2miles writes:

Sending my prayers to you. May God Bless you and your family. Much Love!!!!

the10sevol writes:

a rapid recovery and a bright orange future for you, amber!

RJ_Vol writes:

Hang tough, Amber Gray and family . You all will be in our thoughts and prayers.

crimsonviper writes:

Wish her a quick recovery and hope to see her on the court soon..and...Go Vols

BxVol writes:

Amber, Just know the Big Orange Nation is rooting for you!

txvolsfan writes:

Just pray she is OK, basketball is very secondary at a time like this!!!
Praise God!!!

DroopyDrawers writes:

Amber get well but time takes time. You are my favorite player on the team. God Bless.

Volnbama writes:

I had a brain tumor removed in Feb....we all need to count our blessings...Lucky to be alive....GoVols/Lady Vols!!!

tnluv2play writes:

Amber, we're praying for you and your family.

rclarkfork#639958 writes:

Praying for you and your family.

utvolz#637682 writes:


God has a plan for and we as the Big Orange Nation hope that includes a career as a Lady Vol. Heal up and God Speed.

BigOrangeVol29 writes:

All the best to Amber for a quick recovery.

allvol32 writes:

God bless you and your family Amber...wishing you a speedy and full recovery.

Need_2_Know writes:

in response to BadNewsCafego:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No, this sounds like some impairment of motor skills, given the statement about quality of life. Let's all hope and pray this young woman gets her health back for now, even if she never plays roundball again. Way different medical problem, but it sounds too close to Inquoris "Inky" Johnson's situation, and that young man has fought very hard to get his quality of life back.

etsuvol99#227561 writes:

12.5 hours in surgery? wow! Get well soon, Amber.

MillisaAnn writes:

Get Well Soon Amber!!! Hope to see you back playing very soon! You and your family have my thoughts and prayers May God continue to bless you and your family.

oldvolsfan writes:

amber needs a site so we can keep up with her progress

oldvolsfan writes:

in response to TarHeelRules:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

first smart thing you ever said

JCforUTVols writes:

in response to TarHeelRules:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My thoughts as well!! Good Luck Amber

thevoice writes:

in response to BadNewsCafego:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get some class pal. At this moment, we're just hoping for a pleasant quality of life and recovery. Probably hard for some to believe, but some things trump sports and redshirt questions.

CarmenSandiego writes:

Oh my goodness!!! That's so shocking to hear!! Never would I have thought the complications from her shoulder surgery would've been something so life threatening!!! Thank the Lord she's OK!! Amber, girl you are truly blessed!!! Vol Nation is definitely rooting 4 u!!!

BigOrangeVol writes:

Thank goodness that this aneurysm was found when it was and taken care of!

AG, the entirety of the Big Orange Nation is praying for your swift and full recovery. We're happy for your good fortune because this was indeed a blessing. Our hearts go out to your family during this traumatic period. Be patient; UTK and Vol fans aren't going anywhere.

ALL_VOL75 writes:

Stay strong! Believe in yourself and you'll get past this obstacle and get back to Big Orange Country where you belong!!!

hawkvol07 writes:

Amber, I was sad when I first read this, but I am glad that they found this concern and addressed it. You will get well, you are one of my favoite players and people. I will pray for you and I wish you well. We expect you back on that court as soon as you can get back. Take care please. We all love you!

PumpUptheVOLume writes:

As UT Fans and Friends, we are praying for you Amber and hope you have a successful recovery.

pms151 writes:

For you folks that are ignorant about this sort of thing. This kind of surgery is typically done after a stroke due to a leakage. When found incidentally prior to that it is a routine procedure either by clipping the spot or using a procedure that in essence is soldering the aneurism. Once they leak, like this kid's did, it is a miracle to survive without lifelong consequences. God bless her and her family.

xvolx writes:

amber, I'm praying for you. Sorry; myself and others on this site were so hard on you last year. Hope you have a fast recovery.

myvols2002 writes:

At this point who cares about basketball. Just get better and let everything else take care of itself.

10cvolnga writes:

Best wishes to you Amber. You have a huge following praying for you and your recovery. We're glad you have the best medical care available. Your spirit sounds great!

LadyVolFanForever writes:

Ambers' recovery is certainly the most important thing. I would hope the Lady Vol fans remember that and wish for a full recovery first, everything after that will be easy !

Hang tough Amber, you can do this and we are supporting you !

richvol writes:

All things work together to accomplish GOD's plan for our lives. The injury to her shoulder most likely saved Amber's life. I wish Amber a speedy recovery and she will always be a or not.

shoalcreekvol writes:

God bless you Amber. Prayers are going up on your behalf. Wishing you a quick recovery for life and maybe, hopefully, basketball too.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

God bless this family.

Kinda reminds one where the different life events fit in the grander scheme of things

WytheVol writes:

Good luck and God Bless you and your family!

catch24rules writes:

All things happen for a reason in God's master plan for our lives, Amber.

God doesn't give us anything that we can't handle. Put your trust in God and he will give you the strength to overcome everything that's ahead of you.

We are all praying for you and your family.There is strength in the power of prayers when we all agree in prayer for a full recovery.

chargervol writes:

in response to txvolsfan:

Just pray she is OK, basketball is very secondary at a time like this!!!
Praise God!!!

Absolutely, my thoughts exactly. Amber get well.

armyvol22 writes:

Our Prayers are with you and for you and your family. God has a plan for you so "don't give up, never give up."
God bless you.

Go Vols.

greywolf8 writes:

in response to oldvolsfan:

amber needs a site so we can keep up with her progress

Where do we start, I'll participate?

spencer1989#206886 writes:

My thoughts and prayers are with this family and for a full recovery.

Volunatic writes:

Man, that's really serious. Glad the aneurism was discovered.
My prayers go out to her.
I hope your recovery goes well, Amber!

reachkim00 writes:

First and foremost I'm praying for a 100% recovery for this young lady. The Lady Vol Nation is pulling for you Amber and it makes me prouder than ever to be a devoted fan because of the love and concern we fans extend to our girls.
Get Well Soon #10.

huntined#565710 writes:

We ALL are praying for you Amber!! And we have a BIG GOD THAT LOVES YOU>>

marvinVol writes:

You are in my prayers. Get well soon and enjoy your life. Great to see the Vol Nation pull for Amber. God takes care.

mbushnell writes:

Long time Vol fan, two time grad, first time commenting. I just wanted to share some perspective about what she is going through. I had cancer two years ago, and earlier this year I started having awful headaches. As a precaution, the docs did an MRI, and saw some sort of spot that they believed to be an aneurysm in my head. Before they cut my head open, they wanted to get a good look at what they were truly dealing with. To do this, they did both a spinal tap and a cerebral angiogram. The cerebral angiogram involves shoving a camera into your brain to look around. Fortunately they found that I did not have an aneurysm, but just a twisted blood vessel. This caused them to not have to cut my head open to fix the potential aneurysm. Still, after the surgery, I could not move for more than 8 hrs. I just had to lay there stiff as a board. It was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced. I truly feel sorry for this young woman, and hope that she gets to feeling much better soon.

gohawks1 writes:

Wow. May your recovery be fast and complete, young lady.

RandomVolFan writes:

You and your family will be in my prayers. God Bless.

mississippi writes:

in response to BadNewsCafego:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Is this all you worried about. You are a IDIOT. Amber my prayers are with YOU and your wonderful family.

YankeeVol writes:

It can't ever be said enough: thoughts, prayers, and good energy to you, Amber

dougowen#209282 writes:

Prayers and thoughts are with you, Amber.

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