• Jerry L. Burrell

$1000 Scars

Day 9 of my 21 day writing challenge


My arm was by my side and bent at the elbow. He grabbed the inside of my left wrist and urged me to push on his hand.

He put his hand on the back side of the same wrist, then the top, then the bottom each time asking me to push against his hand.


“There’s no one home!” he said.


This was February 19, 2008.

Just 2 days before, I set a Guinness World Record for the highest front flip dunk from a trampoline. Five minutes after that I hit the rim, fell upside down to the landing mat below and dislocated both shoulders. As I went to get up, I chuckled as I thought of how I’d laughed at the old lady in the long running LifeCall LLC​ commercials.


After my teammates helped me up. I was able to get my right shoulder back into the socket fairly easily. It’s fair to say my right shoulder was used to it since I’d dislocated it at least a dozen times since 2002.


We were on the main court at the NBA All Star Jam Session in New Orleans. I could hear the announcer awkwardly close out that segment of the entertainment and transition to some unplanned segment. My mishap shot fear into the heart of the stage manager and he decided to end the world record attempts right then and there.


20 minutes of bending over and manipulating my arm to ease it back in the socket produced nothing. The paramedics were ready to haul me off to the hospital when another 10 minutes later, I got the left shoulder back in. The pain was excruciating but finally a little relief.


An hour later my calf hurt more than anything. That is what hit the rim first.


The next day my shoulder was still feeling weird. I was convinced I didn’t get it completely in the socket. I went to the gym thinking I could hang from the pull up bar and manipulate it a bit or ease it out if necessary and then ease it back in completely.


I quickly eased it out with a sharp pain that died down over the course of the hour that it took for me to get it back in. I decided then I would get it checked out.


This whole thing began a couple years prior when on behalf of ACRODUNK​ I offered $1000 to any dunker who did a double front flip dunk. There were some capable guys at the time who I believed just needed some motivation. The offer sat on the table for a while. When the opportunity to set some Guinness World Records came along, I decided I would give it a go.


The first week of January 2008, I went in the gym by myself and spent 2-3 days working on nothing else. I created an elaborate basketball goal made out of mats & a hula hoop rim surrounded by other mats. I did double front after double front after double front without a ball. I grabbed a tennis ball and did dozens of double front flip dunks on the hula hoop rim and then I did the same thing with a partly deflated rubber ball.


My teammates came to the gym as I was training it and I decided to go for it on the real basketball goal, this required complete and total commitment and unwavering belief that I could do it. Having them there recording it was extra motivation.


I did it on the 2nd or 3rd attempt.


Back at the doctor’s office.

I asked the trainer what he meant by “no one’s home”


He said “If you want to have proper use of this arm again, we need to get an MRI and get you scheduled for surgery, you’ve got a torn rotator cuff.”


I woke up in the recovery room with news of a successful surgery and for 1 month wore a sling to keep my arm supported and stable. Then 3 hours of daily rehab for 4 months and 2 hours for another 2 months. I still do basic maintenance on both shoulders 3-4 times/week.


I have 7 poke holes that formed keloidal scars from the arthroscopic procedure. I hardly ever think of them and don’t even notice them anymore until someone asks about them. Like many of the 100’s of failed attempts I’ve experienced in this sport, it is the lessons that I remember most. More often than not that lesson is: STAY FOCUSED!


10 years ago at the age of 43, I did a double front flip dunk in practice. I never got a chance to successfully do it in front of a live audience. That left a scar that I do notice from time to time.

On behalf of the United States Freestyle Dunk Federation​, I am again offering $1000 to the American dunker who first completes a double front flip dunk at a USFDF sanctioned event in front of a live audience. Fellas, please step up to the plate, it’s been 10 years and I’d hate to have to give it a go one more time.


If you are an amateur, professional or former/retired American freesTYle dunker, you qualify to be a member of the US FreesTYle Dunk Federation. Become a member, train wisely & safely and stay tuned for more information about the Double Front Flip Dunk challenge. Visit http://www.uncleslam.org



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