An Inspirational Journey, Rayna Dubose Tells Her Story At Women's Basketball Camp

June 23, 2010


Campers at Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson’s basketball camp were treated to a motivational talk by former Virginia Tech women’s basketball player Rayna DuBose. DuBose played for coach Henrickson in 2001 before being struck with meningococcal meningitis. She now travels the country, giving motivational speeches.

After years of hard work, Dubose seemed to have reached her dream. She was a highly-touted recruit who joined the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team, with a full scholarship in 2001.

In her freshman season at Virginia Tech, the 6-foot-3 center shined. Under the guidance of then Virginia Tech head coach Henrickson, DuBose appeared in 13 games, scored in double figures four times, never missed a free throw and added 13 points in a WNIT quarterfinal game.

However, life soon threw DuBose a curveball as she contracted meningococcal meningitis, a deadly bacteria, in April of 2002. Following more than three months in the hospital, struggling for life, doctors amputated all four of her limbs, making her a bilateral amputee.

A long road of recovery lay ahead of DuBose, as she endured months of physical therapy, but with a strong will and lots of endurance, she returned to the Virginia Tech campus in the summer of 2003. During her time at Virginia Tech, DuBose remained an active member of the women’s basketball team by serving as a student assistant coach and traveling with the team.

In the years since her recovery, DuBose has garnered several awards, including the Most Courageous Award at the Men’s Final Four in New Orleans in 2003 and had her story told on a variety of national programs.

DuBose began her talk on Tuesday by crediting Henrickson with making her who she is today. Throughout her 30-minute talk, DuBose told campers about her life before and after contracting meningitis.

According to DuBose, during her freshman year at Virginia Tech, she spent her time playing basketball and enjoying her life, which sometimes meant her priorities were a little confused.

“I was a little bit of a problem child for Bonnie,” said DuBose. “I pushed her to the limit. That was me as a kid. I was hard-headed. I was going to live life basically; and, I had no idea how well I had it.”

Once DuBose awoke from a three-week coma, she had a new outlook on life and a new set of priorities. One of her first memories in the hospital was waking up and asking when she was going to take her finals, a surprising question to those around her.

“The day I woke up was the day I realized my whole priorities in life had to change,” said DuBose. “I no longer had basketball to fall back on. All that talk about partying and having a good time, I couldn’t do that anymore. Everything had to change.”

From physical therapy to taking online classes, DuBose worked hard in the following months to regain her independence. Today, she lives completely on her own, with two dogs and prides herself in her independence.

After reassessing her goals – one of which was to dunk on Kobe Bryant in the NBA – DuBose realized her love of public speaking.

“I thought basketball was going to take care of me,” said DuBose. “That was my whole objective in life. After my priorities changed, I could never say that I actually loved something. So I wanted to find something I love. I love to talk. I love people. I love kids. I love to travel. I love life basically, so why not put it all together.”

One of the strongest messages of her talk was of perseverance and positivity. Although everyday may be a struggle, she takes it as a positive and a learning process. She lives by a quote from Frederick Douglass who said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.”

“To me struggle is my number one word; it’s my everyday life, but it’s a good thing,” said DuBose. “I like to struggle because I’m 100 percent independent. I don’t consider myself handicapped. I can do anything and everything you can do.”

For DuBose, life is good and she wants to spread that message to those around her. Campers walked away from her speech with the advice to not let the little things get you down, because if DuBose had, she wouldn’t be here today.