Tonawanda News — Nehemiah Stone had overcome so much in 2013.
His brother was killed in February. Then in August, just as he was beginning to heal and move past the tragedy, he tore the ACL in his left knee, robbing him of the majority of his final football season.
For a young man whose life revolves around sports, Stone, who leads his Lumberjacks tonight in a sectional quarterfinal showdown against Sweet Home, was devastated.
After an intense rehabilitation regimen, Stone returned to the football field to lead his Jacks to their 13th straight victory over the Tonawanda Warriors in the annual T-NT Classic in October. He was named Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season.
When football ended, Stone turned his attention to the hardwood, preparing to help lead NT from the point guard position in an ultra-competitive Niagara Frontier League.
Things seemed to be going great for Stone and the Jacks until about mid-December.
That’s when Nehemiah Stone broke down.
“Nehemiah missed a game after his body broke out in hives due to the amount of anxiety he was under,” North Tonawanda boys basketball coach Ryan Mountain said.
As Stone and his family dealt with the aftermath of his brother’s death, and with the one-year anniversary looming — which came and went earlier this month — the 5-foot-9 point guard found it difficult to continue to portray his larger-than-life persona.
”It’s been tough,” Stone said. “I’ve tried to focus on winning on the court and basketball in general, but it was tough.”
That’s when Mountain stepped in. He took Stone aside and let his struggling senior know that the entire NT family was there for him.
”A few weeks (after Stone missed that game), he missed a practice and didn’t call anyone,” Mountain said. “He and I had a conversation. I felt he needed to understand that no matter how angry and confused you are, somebody always needs you to be there for them.”