New Beginnings: Briante Weber seeks return

For some, “everything happens for a reason” is a phrase that helps them get through the day. For Briante Weber, it’s a mantra to live by that acknowledges the road ahead offers more long-lived joy than the pain of the past.

VCU’s former basketball star Briante Weber suffered a grim knee injury on Jan. 31 this year, costing him the latter portion of his senior season and a potential all-time record for most steals in college basketball.

Instead, Weber observed from the bench as his team won an Atlantic-10 Championship and an NCAA Tournament birth. Through it all, the Chesapeake native understood his role as a leader on the team and knew it was up to him to keep the heads of his teammates elevated, as their season wasn’t over – even though his was.

“It takes a strong person to actually play that role and to not think about themselves,” Weber said. “I knew this was bigger than me since there is no I in team.”

Weber’s senior season may have come to an end, but his professional career still shows promise in the near future. Known for his tenacious defense and high motor, Weber was sure to find himself on a NBA roster before his injury occurred. Now he has an obstacle in front of him that he is certain won’t hold him back once he is healthy. 

“I’m about to hit the six-month period, so that’s when I’m able to do a lot more cutting,” Weber said.

It’s been six months since the knee injury occurred, and his knee is finally mobile and strong enough for his return to the court. 

Suffering a torn ACL/MCL in sports is a demoralizing trend that is growing rapidly amongst athletes, especially in basketball. All too often, a player is found lying aimlessly on the court, after falling victim to a damaging knee injury – this fate hampered 100,000 athletes in the U.S. this past year.

According to the Andrews Institute of Orthapedics and Sports Medicine, there are at least 4.5 ACL injuries a year in the NBA, with no fewer than three. 

An ACL tear has a recovery process of one year to fully repair and strengthen the knee back to its normal state. The hardest aspect about the recovery process is not so much the physical damage, but the mental.

“It has definitely made me a patient person, because in this whole process you have to have patience and resilience,” Weber said. “Like God says, ‘when one door shuts another door opens,’ it just made me a humble person and it’s been a great experience for me the whole time.” 

NBA teams have reached out to Weber, understanding his recovery process is at a point where teams can conduct workouts and meetings for him to understand what’s demanded from him in the NBA.

“I had two visits where I went to the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz,” Weber said. “In the near future I should be going to Miami (Heat) and maybe Oklahoma City (Thunder).”

Weber remains hopeful in his recovery process to soon be able to get directive rehab to get the ball rolling again.

Weber’s in-game statistics were not the tell-all for the production he displayed on the court for VCU the past three seasons. His superb leadership ability with his intelligence at the point guard position, gave former head coach Shaka Smart a trusted floor general proven to control the pace of the game through his relentless attack on both ends of the court. His 4:1 turnover ratio this past 2014-15 season gave the senior a strong case for prospective NBA teams.

“Most teams said they like the way I distribute the ball, the way I get the team in the offense and the way I run the show,” Weber said. “I’m trying to bring a level of tenacity as a defender and all around team captain.”

During the Rams A-10 tournament run, no other player had a bigger smile on his face than Briante Weber. As he sat adjacent to the court, with his crutches thrown over the bench as he hobbled on one leg, constantly coaching and encouraging, his exuberance spread all throughout the Barclay’s Center. His cunning smile and energy brought excitement to the rest of the team to see its stricken leader hurt but not defeated.

“No matter if I’m playing or not, I can always uplift my team with my voice and my words of encouragement,” Weber said.

“New Beginnings” is what Weber called his current mindset; he said he’s looking to the future. He said he hopes to get back to 100 percent and show the NBA what Ram fans will cherish for years to come.

His name will be in the rafters at VCU and his legacy undoubtedly will continue to live on once he finds his home in the NBA.

“Every day is a new beginning, you choose how it begins and you choose how it ends,” Weber said. “That’s my hashtag forever – New Beginnings.”

Sports Editor, Bryant Drayton

bryantBryant is a sports advocate thats always smiling. He is a senior print and online journalism major aspiring for a career as a professional or college football columnist. Bryant currently covers high school football games for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. // Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

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