Life had come to a grinding halt for former Indian basketball captain Jagdeep Singh Bains and he contemplated committing suicide following a career-threatening back injury that left him bedridden for three years.
The life-changing episode happened during a 3-on-3 tournament in China in 2012 and he simply dropped on the wooden court in excruciating pain, not quite able to comprehend in those fleeting moments what exactly went wrong with his back.
As the 37-year-old once again longingly looks forward to playing for Mumbai Stars in the new Elite Pro Basketball League, he reminisces how a slipped disc left him in a vegetative state for three long years.
“It was the worst period of my life, I was almost in a vegetative state, barely able to move. The pain was so much that I couldn’t bear it,” Bains told PTI on Friday.
The 6’6″ tall centre said his wife was his pillar of strength, helping him through those agonising days when he felt like crying and ending his life.
“I felt like crying. I had almost contemplated suicide because I didn’t want to live like that,” said Bains.
“I was recently married back then and it was my wife who gave me the strength and she was the only reason I didn’t go ahead with committing suicide. I owe her not only my life, but everything.”
Bains, who has competed in more than 20 international tournaments, including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and multiple Asian Championships, went under the knife in 2016 and soon got a call from UBA.
He concedes that timely advice on the injury could have helped him recover faster.
“If someone had advised me to take the injury seriously, I wouldn’t have lost four years of my life and could have given a lot more to the sport I loved,” said the cager from Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
He finally underwent surgery and in three months he was back drawing energy from the courts he once ruled.
“I underwent surgery and within three month I made a comeback and played the first season of UBA league. They helped me a lot with my recovery and even gave me both moral and monetary support. I cannot thank them enough for what they did.”
However, Bains will never forget the pain and agony of being ignored by the national federation under whose banner he played and brought laurels to the country.
“The federation didn’t even bother to call me and ask how I was, leave alone (providing) monetary help. I was very angry with the fact that I gave my everything for this country and in my darkest time, the federation withdrew its support,” said Bains, who started playing basketball in 2002 and went on to represent the senior team at 19 years of age.
He played for three seasons in UBA. He also made a comeback to the Indian team, playing the World Cup qualifiers in Bahrain in 2019. That was the last time he donned the India colours.
Set to play at the Elite Pro Basketball League, Bains said, “India needs such leagues for people to consider basketball as a career option and help grow the sport in the country.”
“We have seen what IPL has done to cricket. We need similar leagues in the country. Other nations such as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bangladesh already have professional leagues and we too need to have such platforms for the youngsters,” said Bains, who learnt his trade under late coach S. Subramanian at the Ludhiana Basketball Academy.
“In professional leagues, players are well paid, and well taken care of in terms of their diet, medical help, injury management, which further motivate the players.”