Cats receive inspiration, Part One

When Alex Otte was standing in line with about 100 other fans waiting in line hoping to get an autograph from Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari during his summer camp, a man she did not know asked her what happened that caused her to have a prosthetic leg.

When Alex Otte was standing in line with about 100 other fans waiting in line hoping to get an autograph from Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari during his summer camp, a man she did not know asked her what happened that caused her to have a prosthetic leg. That's when the 14-year-old Lexington girl explained she was hit by a drunken boater while sitting on a jet ski during the summer of 2010.

That's when UK?football strength and conditioning coach Ray "Rock" Oliver told Otte who he was.

"He explained that it wasn't the prosthetic leg that caught his attention, but rather Alex's infectious smile," said Laura Otte, Alex's mother. "He asked Alex if she would be willing to speak to the UK football team on overcoming adversity."

That's a subject she certainly understands because her injuries were so serious that even her mother and father, who helped get her out of the water and waited for an ambulance to arrive at Herrington Lake, weren't sure she would survive the air lift to St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington.

But Alex Otte did survive. She was befriended by former UK basketball player Josh Harrellson and has told her remarkable story to church groups and even the Ohio UK?Convention. Last week she shared her message with the Kentucky football team thanks to Oliver's invitation.

"Alex spoke briefly to the football team on making the most of what you been given. She went on to say that feeling sorry for yourself does no one any good and we all have bad days. To remember that on days that we honestly don't feel like getting out of the bed, to just remember things can always get worse. In a matter of seconds things can always get worse, changing your life forever," Laura Otte said.

Coach Joker Phillips and Oliver invited Alex and her family back to hear the inspirational story of Harold Dennis, a former UK football player and survivor of a horrific 1988 Carrollton bus crash. Dennis talked about the emotional and physical challenges he had to overcome.

"Not only was his message emotional and uplifting it was in many ways very healing for Alex's mom," Laura Otte said. "Not the intent of the coaching staff, but a unique gift just the same." However, Alex Otte had the same impact on the football team and her talk touched various players and made many wipe away tears. One who was particularly moved was sophomore receiver Brian Adams.

Adams missed his high school senior season with a separated shoulder but still signed with UK. After getting to campus in the summer, he noticed his right arm was swollen in early July. He had a clot in his biceps and was told by doctors at home that taking blood thinners just solve the problem. Kentucky football trainer Jim Madaleno thought it might be thoracic outlet syndrome and advised him to see a surgeon before coming back to Lexington.

Before Adams saw a specialist, his back became so painful he could barely walk. Finally a CAT scan showed he had clots in his lungs and his subclavian vein. He had to have his first rib removed to open the vein and stayed on blood thinners for six months. That forced him to miss his first football season, but did save his life.


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