Sean Merriman, BTN.com web editor, April 3, 2015
There is no scarier thought for a parent than to hear that your child may not survive. That is where the story of Travis Trice's journey at Michigan State should begin.
In the summer of 2012, between Trice's freshman and sophomore season, an unexplained illness came upon the Spartans' point guard that left doctors across the Lansing area puzzled.
He was sleeping more than 15 hours per day, waking up only to use the restroom and eat a light meal, whatever he could manage to stomach.
Trice's mother, Julie, noticed unexplained heavy bags under her son's eyes, as well as a significant weight loss.
It reached the point where Julie and the entire family were worried about their son's life. The scare continued to increase, and doctors continued to struggle with providing a proper diagnosis. Trice experienced dehabilitating fatigue during the time, but blood tests, MRI's and numerous medications did not seem to provide any type of answer.
The closest doctors came to a diagnosis was a brain infection. One that, at one point, threatened Trice's life and left more questions about his future than answers.
"It was a lot to go through," Trice said Friday, now 30 pounds heavier and the leader of the Spartans. "I kind of hit rock bottom at that point in my life when I didn't even know if I was going to live.
"It makes me appreciate everything going on now that much more."
The Spartans' Final Four run is a long distance from when Trice would lay in bed for hours upon hours, wondering not only what his basketball career would hold, but what his life would hold as well.
After recovering from the brain scare, Trice then suffered two concussions. During his junior season, he grew painful blisters on his feet, which prevented him from planting and noticeably disrupted his game out on the court. He missed games, practices, off-season conditioning, all of which put a hold on his development.
"It was unexplainable, and they weren't even really basketball-related injuries," Michigan State Tom Izzo said. "As they say, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' and he's a walking example of that."
Now, Trice is the focal point of a Michigan State team that is set to take on No. 1-seeded Duke on Saturday night in a Final Four matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. While trips to the Final Four may often be associated with Izzo's program, this is the first for Trice and his teammates.
Trice is finally fully healthy for the first time during his four years spent at Michigan State. He plays with a fearless, yet controlled emotion out on the court, which has resulted in the best playing stretch of his career.
The pain he went through in the early portion of his career has contributed to where he is today.
"When you are as sick as he was, and you've had all the injures he's had, you just have to look back and be thankful for how far he's come and where he is today," said Trice's mother. "It sounds crazy, but if you ask him if he'd go through all of this again to get where he is today, my guess is that his answer would be yes. Without a doubt."
That says a lot about a 22-year old kid. It says he understands what a rare opportunity he has been given. A chance to play in a Final Four, something that many other college players dream about. It's the pinnacle of college basketball, and he's making sure to take it all in.
"I know when to kind of relax, and I know when to get serious," Trice said. "I'm trying to hold onto every memory I make here because this is something I will remember for the rest of my life."
Following the Spartans' win over Louisville, Trice received numerous messages from friends, family and former MSU players. But it was one message in particular from MSU great Magic Johnson that still occupied his mind nearly one week later.
"He told me he was proud of me and that he felt it was my leadership that helped get us to this point," Trice said. "When you hear something like that from a guy who most people consider to be one of the greatest players ever to play the game, that means a lot.
"It just makes a big difference when you have somebody of that stature there for you."
Izzo has always been very upfront about saying how much it means to him as a coach to have former players come back and support the program. Johnson, Draymond Green, Mateen Cleaves and Drew Neitzel are all examples of players who have shown their constant support for the Spartans throughout this unforgettable Final Four run.
It's a tough reality, but Trice is well aware that at some point in the next few days, his college career ends.
"I remember when I came in, the older guys on the team always talked about carrying on the tradition here at Michigan State," Trice said. "Now, it's been my job to pass that on to the younger guys, and they have done a great job of buying into it.
"This is the closest group of guys I've ever been around, and I'm just blessed to play with these guys this season."
It's a season that should undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest in Michigan State basketball history. But it's the career of Travis Trice that should be remembered as well. All the way back to the health scare that had him wondering if he would ever be able to play another game in a Michigan State uniform.
"It's surreal to think about," Julie Trice said. "I keep saying 'Pinch me,' because I keep thinking it's a dream."
Now, with the Spartans playing in a Final Four, and their senior point guard leading way, that one-time dream has turned into a reality.
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