Five months after a third and final surgery to repair a torn ACL in their sons right knee, Darby and Carla Lewis were told by a doctor that it was a miracle their son was walking normally.
What started as a routine ligament tear during a practice in October 2009 turned into a nightmare that nearly ended the promising athletic career of then-14-year-old Adam Lewis.
Lewis knee became infected a month later, forcing him to go under the knife for a second time in an attempt to clean out the infection.
Recovery remained slow, keeping Lewis out of school at Rocky Mountain High for more than a month as he dropped 50 pounds and had to receive antibiotics through a PICC line.
Feeling discouraged, the family booked an appointment with world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Richard Steadman, who has treated NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL athletes at his clinic in Vail, Colo.
Steadman performed a third surgery in July 2010, and the family stayed in Colorado for nearly a month as Lewis underwent twice-daily therapy.
The doctor told us that out of the thousands of surgeries he had done, our sons was among the top 10 worst he had ever seen, Darby Lewis said.
Even at 14, Lewis looked as though he would follow in his fathers footsteps. Darby Lewis was a state champion in the shot put and discus for Capital High in 1978 and 1979 and went on to play inside linebacker at Arizona State and the University of Idaho.
But the severity of the younger Lewis injury kept him away from football, basketball and baseball as a sophomore, and his family began to wonder if he would have to adjust his dreams.
We were definitely thinking that he wouldnt be the same, but we didnt want to say it out loud, Carla said.
Lewis remained determined not to let the injury derail his career. He was diligent with therapy and still attended practices and games to remain a part of the football team.
It was a little upsetting going to games and not being able to play. It bugged me, Lewis said. But I tried to keep positive and not let it get to me. I tried to think more of the team.
Unable to play in his preferred sports, Lewis decided to take up the shot put and discus with the consent of his doctor in the spring of his sophomore year.
He was cleared to play football before the start of his junior year, and he played in six games. He followed his return to football with a 5A District Three title in the discus with a state-best throw of 178 feet, 2 inches.
Boosted by that success and the continued strengthening of his knee, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior defensive end now ranks among the top 10 in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference with three sacks.
It has been great. It felt awesome to get out there and do what I love, Lewis said.
Rocky Mountain coach Jason Warr said Lewis is a big kid and he can play with leverage. He has really long arms and can extend on people. He is very athletic. Those are attributes that really give him an advantage in the game.
Lewis, who still feels some discomfort in the knee, is attracting the attention of college coaches for football and track. Its a dream he once thought hed lost.
To see him do so well now after what he went through, we literally thank the Lord. Hes finally back doing what he loves to do, Carla said. We believe that everything happens for a reason, and from this Adam has just become very determined and committed.
He pretty much believes whatever he puts his mind to now he can accomplish.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX