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Because He Didn't

Count Us Out






Heart woes ground Eagle

Forward from Pershing hopes to play for EMU despite defibrillator implanted in chest

The Detroit News (5 Nov 2007) STORY written By Eric Lacy

YPSILANTI — Once the plane touched down in Dallas and Eastern Michigan basketball coach Charles Ramsey switched on his cell phone he knew something wasn’t right. There were numerous messages waiting.Word traveled quickly that prize recruit Marvin Skipper nearly died while undergoing medical tests on his heart.

     In fact, Skipper’s heart stopped beating and it took quick intervention by doctors at Children’s Hospital in Detroit to save his life on this July day. It was the second time in less than six months Skipper’s heart had stopped while undergoing tests to evaluate abnormal heart rhythms.

“The news scared the daylights out of me,” said Ramsey, now in his third season with the Eagles.

Skipper underwent surgery to implant a cell-phone sized defibrillator in his chest, which would shock his heart if it should stop again.

It’s uncertain if Skipper will ever play again. Skipper likes his chances, even though he’s currently not allowed to even work out.

“It not over until God says it’s over,” said Skipper, a 6-foot-9 forward from Detroit Pershing. “There’s a possibility that I’ll play again. I’m going to take it as that.”

       His mother, Adrain Caldwell, also remains positive. It was Caldwell who pushed for the defibrillator, despite some resistance from her son.

“Basketball means everything to Marvin,” Caldwell said. “I always tell him to have a Plan B. But I miss his playing days and I know he does, too. He’s a smart kid. He can still make millions (if he doesn’t play as a career) by using his brain.”

Ramsey, who began evaluating Skipper as an eighth-grader, is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Upon hearing about Skipper’s status, Ramsey sought advice from mentor Oliver Purnell, the coach at Clemson who had a player die during the season several years ago while at Dayton.

     Purnell advised Ramsey to err on the side of caution because he admitted to having recurring nightmares about the loss.

“I’ll be honest with you, Marvin might not ever suit up again,” Ramsey said. “Playing basketball is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that 40 or 50 years from now, Marvin is still around and has a great college education.” Warning signs

Signs of Skipper’s heart problems were noticeable in 10th grade, after a series of dizzy spells that caused him to pass out in practice.

But it wasn’t until last December, when spells came more often, that doctors thought it necessary to have Skipper undergo extensive stress tests.

Skipper missed weeks of his senior cause of his health. That didn’t worry Ramsey too much, though, because Skipper finished the season strong.

“We thought everything was great,” Ramsey said. “Then, later, taking the news about the defibrillator, I thought, ‘Wow, defibrillators are usually what you hear elderly people having.”While in a holding pattern, Skipper is trying to make the most of his time. He has numerous roles with the team: a manager, mentor and teammate. “I just want to still be a part of the team,” Skipper said. 






   Skipper’s presence is valued and treated like any other player, hence the locker that still bears his name.Former Pershing teammate Will Cooper, also a freshman at Eastern, continues to be amazed at the resolve and patience his friend demonstrates in the face of adversity. Everyone seems to listen, especially knowing Skipper’s desire to get back on the court.


   “For me, if I’m not doing so about season six be- well or feeling so good on the court, I just look at him and say to myself, ‘Man, I could be in his position,’ ” Cooper said. “So I try to go as hard all the time. Seeing him makes me push myself a little harder.” Challenging background. Growing up in a single-parent home on Detroit’s east side, near Six Mile and I-75, Skipper was often the man of the house in a rough neighborhood. In fact, in 2005, the family experienced a slew of bad incidents.


   A dead body, one believed to be a female prostitute, was found in the backyard of their home and there was arson to a home next door, Caldwell said.“Most of us in this family haven’t had anything easy,” said Caldwell, who has since moved to Warren. “Marvin was always a real tough kid and protector, so I’m sure the types of experiences he’s had has helped him cope with everything.”


   Ramsey sees the impact Skipper has made on the team and is impressed with how other players took a proactive approach when it was certain one of the prize freshmen couldn’t play this season. “Sometimes, because of this, I just think, ‘Wow, things happen for different reasons and different ways,’ ” Ramsey said “It’s been a lesson in mortality for this team: Tomorrow isn’t necessarily a promise.” You can reach Eric Lacy at

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Meet The Team


Ms. Adrain is the mother of Marvin and is also a Detroit native. She believes that YAB is a vision of Marvin’s that he is making come to life. Her goal is to help make this organization be the best that it can be for the future of our youths.


Kanesha was born and raised in Detroit and is considered to be a passionate social justice advocate. She has a Bachelor’s in social work with a specialization in Child Welfare from Eastern Michigan University and is pursuing a Master’s in Counseling Education- School Counseling at Wayne State University.


Craig is a go-getter in his community. He has experience with motivating and educating the youth throughout his hometown, Detroit. Craig has degree in political science and is currently working towards a degree in Human Resource Development.

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