On Saturday night, St. Mary’s Bradyn Barnett stood front and center at the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena during halftime of the 2023 Mingua Beef Jerky Girls’ Basketball Sweet 16 Championship between McCracken County and the victorious Sacred Heart. With all eyes on Barnett, she was honored as the UK Sports Healthcare Comeback Player of the Year.
“When I was told that I received this award, I was shocked because I didn’t even know I was nominated,” Barnett said. “It was a very emotional day. My family and I have gone through multiple obstacles for me to be able to finally get back on the court and field with my teammates.”
Those teammates and coach Aseer Scott surprised the sophomore at Rupp Arena as she took the court to receive her award. As Barnett’s mother filmed her daughter’s moment, the PA announced her last name incorrectly, allowing the multisport athlete to laugh despite experiencing overwhelming emotions. Barnett was only aware her friends and teammates were there once they held up a sign and cheered her on.
“If any athlete is going through an injury or illness, the advice I would give them would be not to let it overtake you and to go through it with a positive attitude,” she said. “How you carry yourself will show much about you, but I know that is easier said than done. I also had friends and family praying for me, and I leaned heavily on God to help me through the hardships.”
Barnett has battled Chondroblastoma in her femur since 2019 and a secondary Aneurysmal Bone Cyst, with over 1,300 hours of physical therapy and six surgeries. Her Athletic Director, Brad Ehlers, nominated her for inspiring Ehlers and the First Region and St. Mary community.
“When I was able to step back on the court this season with my team, everything felt right,” Barnett said. “I was so happy to be able to participate instead of sitting out and watching. I felt beyond happy because I could play with my teammates and friends. Being out there made all the physical therapy worth it.”
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