The Summer of 2005 was a good one for Ronny Turiaf. The former Gonzaga´s star was the 37th overall pick in the NBA Draft. And his new team... the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed a two-year $1 million contract.
He had been playing for the Lakers in a Summer Pro League until the Lakers´ team doctor, John Moe, found an enlarged aortic root in the player's heart during a routine physical exam. After multiple examinations the problem was serious enough to require open heart surgery. At the time, the doctors didn´t know if a valve replacement was necessary, in which case Ronny Turiaf's dream of playing in the NBA could have been shattered. If the problem had gone undetected, he could have suffered a serious, possibly even fatal, injury just by enduring everyday activities.
The Lakers voided Turiaf's contract but retained his rights and, in addition, the team paid for all the expenses from the surgery. Turiaf underwent the six hour open-heart surgery on July 26, 2005. His expected recovery time was between six and twelve months.
As part of his rehabilitation, Turiaf signed with the Continental Basketball Association's Yakama Sun Kings. He played 9 games averaging 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
But Turiaf recovered from his surgery quicker than expected and was therefore re-signed with the Lakers on January 17, 2006, less than six months after his surgery.
And now, a year and a half later the French man has just signed a contract with the Golden State Warriors... a team that needs a great heart.