Losing Her Leg Didn’t Stop Her Playing Basketball


ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP


"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."


That's what professional basketball player Natasa Kovacevic's Twitter bio reads. And it's very apt, for an athlete who had lost a limb as a teenager. A young athlete who had hopes of making it big on the Olympic stage.


Kovacevic's left leg had to be amputated below the knee after she got involved in an accident in September 2013. The team bus she was travelling in at the time, with mates from Hungarian team UNI Gyor, had turned into a crumpled wreck from which she was pulled out. She was lucky to survive.



ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP


Her coach Akos Fuzy and general manager Peter Tapodi weren't so lucky as they lost their lives. Kovacevic realised how fortunate she had been, despite losing her leg. She was just 19 at the time, but braved the situation like a hardened adult.


But she was uncertain if she could ever set foot on court again.


"From the beginning I have had one wish - to play basketball again," she said.


Second Debut



ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP


Two years later, Kovacevic became the first disabled European athlete to play in a professional team, when she returned to her old team Red Star Belgrade for a league game in Serbia.


Those who witnessed her, with a prosthetic leg covered by black leggings, stood on their feet and applauded after she scored her first points of the game.


"I feel like the two-year absence never happened," Natasa said, modestly admitted that she was a bit rusty. Understandably.



ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP


"This means the world to me and I hope it will show other people they can achieve anything in life if they set their minds to it," she added.


Her determination to fight back wasn't limited to herself. She went on to form an eponymous foundation that targeted helping young athletes. This was a couple of months before she turned 20!


Her accident, however unfortunate, has indeed made her stronger.

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