Young Harlem hoopster and activist back in the lineup after life-saving heart surgery | Mitral Valve Repair Center Skip to main content

By Molly Crane-Newman and Larry McShane

May. 26, 2019 | New York Daily News
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Shamel Thompson at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. (Angus Mordant/for New York Daily News)

At the age of 21, the clock was already winding down for hoops-loving Shamel Thompson.

The avid Harlem basketball player, diagnosed in 2014 with Lupus and heart disease, received a grim prognosis earlier this year of just six months to live — until a buzzer-beating surgery saved his life.

“You’ve just got to take it one day at a time,” says Thompson, who has long made every day count with his devotion to basketball and his neighborhood.

Thompson had struggled with his health woes for years, but things took a serious turn for the worse with his recent diagnosis of heart failure. Without surgery, Thompson was unlikely to survive until next March’s NCAA tournament.

The perpetually-busy community activist, who organized annual local basketball tournaments, the refurbishing of a neighborhood playground and a Christmas season giveaway event, was barely able to get around as his condition deteriorated.

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Page Created: Jun. 03, 2019 Last Updated: Jun. 03, 2019