Forgotten LeBron James teammate overcame open heart surgery to win NBA title with Miami Heat in astonishing turnaround

RONNY Turiaf won an NBA championship and played in the league for a decade – yet that might not be his greatest accomplishment.

The now 40-year-old Frenchman was an NBA standout who overcame traumatic heart surgery at a young age.

Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery at just 22 years old

Ronny Turiaf overcame open heart surgery at just 22 years oldCredit: Getty

The Frenchman played in the NBA for a decade

The Frenchman played in the NBA for a decadeCredit: Getty

He even teamed with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on the Heat's 2012 championship squad

He even teamed with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade on the Heat’s 2012 championship squadCredit: Getty
Turiaf, a 2005 second-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers, couldn’t even start his professional career without experiencing a hurdle.

Before he could step on the floor in a regular season game, the No. 37 overall pick was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root, which required open heart surgery.

The procedure was originally thought to keep him out for an entire season, with some doctors predicting he would never return to playing basketball.

The 6-foot-10 forward’s contract with the Lakers was voided, potentially ending his NBA career before it even launched.

Former Laker spokesman John Black said: “A best-case scenario, if things go great, is he could come back as early as a year from now.

“Doctors think that if he’s ever able to play basketball again, it would be a bonus.”

Black also added that one of Turiaf’s attending physicians said there would be a 75 percent chance he would have a potentially fatal episode within a three-to-four-year period.

Turiaf proved doctors and naysayers wrong though, returning his rookie season less than six months after surgery.

He played 23 games in his rookie year, more than anyone could have possibly imagined.

Throughout his 10-year tenure in the biggest basketball league in the world, Turiaf played for seven franchises.

Most notably, he even teamed up with LeBron James for a season, winning an NBA championship with the Miami Heat squad in 2012.

Ronny featured in 13 regular season games after being acquired midseason, and played in a game in each round of the Heat’s eventual title-winning playoff run over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In 2016, after ten years in the NBA, Turiaf announced his retirement from basketball.

On his potentially career-ending procedure, the star had faith the entire way.

He said: “I will not let my family down. I’m gonna get through it. I’ll be back on this court.

“They are gonna have to f**king kill me.”

Turiaf retired from basketball in 2016

Turiaf retired from basketball in 2016Credit: Getty

The NBA champion is now 40 years of age

The NBA champion is now 40 years of ageCredit: Getty

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