When Davon Usher went in to get an X-ray after months of competing in the South East Australian Basketball League with pain in his leg, the last thing he expected was a season-ending injury.
The X-rays showed the Ballarat Miners import had sustained a stress fracture and would require surgery.
“I was expecting to just be told to rest for a couple of weeks or maybe ice it, I didn’t know it was this severe,” Usher said of his shock.
“I was devastated when I found out because we were so close. We’ve been in it together and I feel like I can’t finish it with my teammates, my brothers, it is hard.”
While Usher wanted to work through the pain and play the season out, he knew the club and the doctors were thinking of his best interests.
He said it was a sad moment when his teammates found out. They were equally shocked by the outcome.
“They didn’t realise it was that severe either because I hadn’t really been talking about it,” Usher said.
“The pain would come and go, so I didn’t really think too much of it. It is the first time of ever having a problem with any of my bones.”
Usher said returning to the United States for surgery would mean he would be in his own home and around family for a challenging three months of rehabilitation.
But it was not an easy decision to make after the powerful impact the Ballarat community has had on Usher and the strong desire to support his teammates.
He described Ballarat as one of the best places he has played professionally.
“This is my first time I’ve been in the country, it’s not something that I’m used to because I’m from a city,” Usher said. “And people in the country shower you with so much love and appreciation, so I feel bad leaving the fans, but I’ll be back.”
Usher spent time on Saturday with the Celtics team he coaches voluntarily, and then made his final appearance at the Minerdome to support his teammates in a clash against Kilsyth and say goodbye to the fans.
“Everybody wrote me cards and was telling me how much they are going to miss me,” Usher said.
“That just shows how much you mean to people, even if they only know you for a short amount of time.
“The people here genuinely care about you and genuinely want to help you and genuinely want to see you be successful. I just appreciate everybody here. They treat you more of a person than a basketball player.”
But a silver lining to come from the injury will be returning to his young daughters in the United States, who he has not seen since February.
“They don’t know I’m coming home, I’m going to surprise them, and my mum don’t know, so I’m going to surprise her,” Usher said.
But contracted for next season, Ballarat still beckons.
And after getting so close to a championship last year and another successful run so far this season, Usher has unfinished business.
“It is just tough,” he said. “But it won’t stop with us as a team and our brotherhood we got going on.”