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Badgers' Carmen Backes holds on to hope she can overcome knee injury


Jan. 21, 2020

Carmen Backes recently reached one of those crossroads in life.
Should she take one path, hanging up her basketball sneakers for good, conceding that her severely damaged right knee had ended her University of Wisconsin women’s basketball career before it ever really started?
Or should she undergo one more surgical procedure, her fourth in three years, to give herself one more chance?
In the end Backes knew there was only one direction she could go.
“Basketball is the thing that makes me feel the most alive,” Backes said. “I’m very passionate about it.
“I had a decision to not have this last surgery and medically retire. But for me, I feel like there’s still hope and I wanted to give myself the best chance so that when I’m older I can look back and say that I tried everything. Even if I get one year of college basketball and even if it’s just practicing, for me, that would be worth it. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl and I’m not ready to give it up yet.”
No. 22 Iowa rallies past Badgers women's basketball team
With that motivation Backes underwent surgery in November, performed by noted reconstructive orthopedic specialist Brian Cole of Rush University in Chicago, to have a knee cartilage transplant from a cadaver donor.
It is, she admits, “a last-ditch effort” to revive her once promising career and she’s trying to balance an optimistic and a realistic outlook on her future.
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