Although it’s been eight months since she tore up her left knee, both dislocating it and tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, the memory of that day and the torture that came after it will never be far from the mind of Kansas University senior Carolyn Davis.
As she sat on the Allen Fieldhouse floor during Tuesday’s women’s basketball media day and fielded questions from reporters with a healthy knee and extreme excitement about her upcoming senior season, a tattoo that chronicled everything healed on her left shoulder.
“My injury kind of inspired it,” Davis said of the fresh ink.
Like Davis’ game, the tattoo is pretty simple. It’s a cross, which demonstrates her faith, and it includes the date of the incident — 2-12-12 — inside of it and the word “determination” below it. At the top is one of Davis’ favorite bible verses, Isaiah 54:17, which reads, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper ...”
“I understand that this was something to tear me down,” Davis said. “And I used it to build me back up.”
By all accounts, Davis is well on her way to becoming the player she was when she went down with the injury. At the time, she led the Jayhawks in scoring (17.5 points per game) and was in the top five nationally in field-goal percentage (60.2 percent). KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said Tuesday she had no doubt Davis could reach those milestones again.
“Absolutely,” Henrickson said. “If you think about her game — and I thought about this for many days when she went down — what does she do really well? She runs rim to rim really, really well and she’s doing that. It didn’t affect her hands, so she’ll be able to run, catch and finish. When we first got her in individual workouts, I just shook my head and said, ‘You just make it look so easy.’ And that’s what the best ones do.”
With Davis out, the Jayhawks won just four of 11 games, but two of them came in the NCAA Tournament. Davis was there during her team’s run to the Sweet 16, but did not enjoy it the same as she always had dreamed.
“It’s driving me to experience that in a different way,” she said. “I want to be out there and be in the lights and play on national TV. It was exciting, and I know the camera got on me quite a lot on the bench, but it’s just not the same as being out there and being able to play with your team.”
While the 6-foot-3 forward from Houston still struggles with contact and has a little rehab still ahead of her, she already has been an inspiration to her teammates.
“She comes in every day and she gets better,” said senior guard Monica Engelman. “It amazes me as her friend and as her teammate. I’m super proud of her and what she’s done.”
Through all of the heartbreak and hard times that came her way since Feb. 12, Davis said she had about four days where she was truly down. She’s up now. And, with her final season as a Jayhawk right around the corner and her knee healthy enough to run through a little dance rehearsal with teammate Asia Boyd in preparation for Friday’s Late Night, it’s that new tattoo that hurts the most.
“At this point, yeah,” Davis said with relief and a smile.