Kaden Seely was unable to walk, tie his shoes or put socks on in the final months of his sophomore year at Roseburg High School.
Last Friday, the now-senior scored a season-high 13 points in the Tribe’s 68-65 overtime win over North Medford.
“He’s one of those guys you never have to worry about,” Roseburg coach Mike Pardon said. “He gives 110 percent every day.”
Seely had surgery in Los Angeles to correct a severe curvature in his spine caused by scoliosis. Afterwards, Seely was measured to be two inches taller than before he went under the knife.
During the surgery his muscles were detached, his spine was realigned and put back into place with metal rods, and the muscles were reattached.
“It was definitely incredibly painful and debilitating,” Seely said. “I couldn’t move. All the progress I made in the first 13-14 years of my life were gone down the drain.”
Seely was only allowed to sleep on his back and had to relearn how to do everything, including walking.
“It was an unbelievable surgery that they had done and how the body has to adapt,” Pardon said. “It’s almost like starting over, like a baby.”
Roseburg coaches Pardon and Jim Early came to visit Seely while he was recovering in the hospital.
“For the coaches to be there, that meant a lot,” the senior said.
“I think our coaching staff is about developing relationships and I think we would’ve visited anybody,” Pardon said. “I just see our team as a family, and if a family member is in the hospital we’d go see him.”
During the hospital visit, Seely was still under sedation. Pardon said Seely was pretty loopy. His friends recorded some of the Facetime conversations they had.
Seely doesn’t remember much of the visits from his coaches or the conversations he had with friends, teammates or family.
But while the road of his recovery started with loopy conversations, it’s not always been fun. Even now he continues to feel the pain.
“I know he’s hurting, but he doesn’t act like it,” Pardon said. “He’s a competitor, but that’s what you’ve got to like about him. He plays through a lot of pain because of it.”
Pardon checks in nearly every day with Seely to ask if he’s doing alright. The senior complains about stiffness but tries to work through the rest of the pain with massages, ice packs, heat packs, anti-inflammatories and stretching.
“I couldn’t do this without my parents,” Seely said, adding they put heat packs in the microwave the minute he gets home, rub his back and are always thinking of him.
His mother and father are both in medicine. Dr. Brad Seely is an ophthalmologist, and his mother, Dr. Julee Richards, is a dermatologist. He also has an older brother and an older sister.
Due to the extent of the surgery Seely had to quit playing baseball, a sport he had played since he was old enough to join a little league team.
Although basketball is not without pain, he didn’t want to sacrifice basketball too.
“I’ve been playing basketball forever and I already have to miss out on baseball, so it’s a personal pride that I cannot let this interfere with both sports,” Seely said. “Even if I’m uncomfortable, I’m glad to be playing.”
Pardon said, “He leads by example and you need guys like that when you want to win. If you don’t go hard, he’s going to make you look silly.
“We’ve seen a real commitment by Kaden to see his team get better.”
Seely said he puts in the same amount of work as the rest of his team, but “what’s different is what I have to physically and mentally deal with.”
Seely’s hard work has also paid off on the court, and he has had some very key plays for Roseburg.
“He’s one of those guys who gives us whatever we need,” Pardon said. “We struggled before the half (on Friday) and he gets a steal and scores for us to bring us within six. That was huge.”
Seely will get a chance Tuesday to make some more plays for Roseburg as the team travels to play a nonconference game at Willamette in its first of three road games in Eugene. The Tribe will return to Roseburg on Feb. 15 when they host South Medford.
Pardon said, “It’s a miracle that he’s playing like he is.”