KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ed Corporal has been playing basketball ever since he could walk.
“Stony Point South in KCK. I had a friend who said, you want to go out during recess? Let’s play some basketball.”
Corporal’s passion carried him to a successful playing career in high school and college.
He then coached for more than three decades, including serving as the current head coach for the Kansas City Tornadoes.
But playing the sport he grew up loving almost came to an end when Corporal nearly lost his life.
“Most people would say ‘Oh God, why is this happening to me?’ It came out of nowhere. Hardest thing I had to do in my life was to come back from that.”
In 2013, Corporal, who is affectionately known as a player’s coach, was sidelined by two massive strokes.
“So, I had to learn how to walk, how to put my clothes back on, everything,” he said. “Most people would say ‘Oh God,’ but the only thing I was thinking about was getting back to the bench.”
Corporal was in the hospital for about four months.
He continues his rehab to this day, which includes shooting around.
He hopes to serve as an inspiration for his players and for anyone facing adversity.
If he can come back from this, he says so can they.
“I hope I’m an inspiration to people, to my players, cause they say if coach can get through this, and go through that, I can make a sprint or finish that 4th quarter strong.”
Corporal comes from a huge basketball family.
His brother, Otis Birdsong, played in the NBA for the Kansas City Kings.
Corporal was the ball boy for the team at the time.
Kevin Loder was also on that Kings squad and has vivid memories of Corporal as a ball boy.
“What I remember about him is we always had fun. He was always there with us. He was one of the guys. He wasn’t somebody like, um, what’s his name again?” said Loder, who now serves as general manager for the Tornadoes.