After leg amputation, medical help received in Roanoke helps WV basketball player play again

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Wes Hobbs is a three-sport athlete for Mercer Christian Academy in Princeton, West Virginia. And while he lives just past the Virginia state line, it's the medical help he's received here in Roanoke that has changed his life forever.

Wes Hobbs loves to compete. Whether it's on the track, soccer field, or of course, on the basketball court. But he never imagined just how much his love of playing sports would be put to the test.

"When I was in the hospital, I just kept going, 'Why?' I was trying to think what I did wrong. I went through everything I might have done wrong, because I thought I was doing pretty good in life,” Hobbs said.

In October of 2014, Wes was on the way to meet his dad, Bruce, for breakfast, when he hydroplaned off the road.

"When I came around the curve there, I didn't know what to think. My heart just dropped. They wouldn't let me go close to the car,” Bruce Hobbs said. “The state patrolman kept me back, and I just wanted to let him know that I was there. I kept hollering at him to let him know that I was there."

Wes Hobbs said: "I ended up hitting a tree on the front-left side of the car. It scooted over, and trapped my leg in there. I don't really remember much."

After being trapped in the vehicle for 40 minutes, Wes was airlifted to Carillion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He suffered 22 total fractures in his face, severe lacerations on his shoulder, a broken femur, and a shattered lower left leg. A lower leg that would no longer be the same.

"After six or seven surgeries, we were in ICU, and the doctor started talking about amputation,” Bruce Hobbs said. “Lynn and I both, we tried to get him off the medications and all the drugs, so he could make a rational decision. We tried to let him make that decision, and not us."

Lynn Hobbs, Wes's mother, said: "I saw the look on his face when we told him, and it was hard to see."

But after the initial shock of potentially losing a limb wore off, the answer became clear to Wes.

"If I kept it, I'd be able to walk around semi-normally, live normal somewhat, but I wouldn't be able to play sports. I've been a huge sports guy my whole life, so I was like, 'There's only one option here, guys,’” Wes Hobbs said.

The decision to amputate eventually led Wes back to Roanoke and Virginia Prosthetics, where he would be helped by those who know exactly what he's been through. Including his personal practitioner, Doug Smiley.

"This particular, unique situation, I have a lot of experience, because I was a traumatic victim myself. So with a prosthesis, life changes, but life is not over,” said Smiley, who is a certified prosthetist-orthotist.

Wes Hobbs said: "You have to improvise, adapt, and overcome. That was always our motto in basketball, and it turns out it has meant a lot more to me than just for basketball. It's been a big change and it's been an adjustment for sure, but God's helped me through the whole thing, and I've accepted it."

And it's that acceptance that has enabled Wes and his family to continually move forward.

"I've told him several times that it's okay to cry, and okay to talk about it, and he doesn't have to be a hero all the time, but he has been,” Bruce Hobbs said.

Lynn Hobbs: "It's just such a blessing for Bruce and I that he had the attitude he had. Because when you know your son's doing okay, you're doing okay."

Wes Hobbs: "Looking at myself now, I see a crippled person, but I see a better person through that. Yeah, I'm handicapped now for the rest of my life. It's handicapped physically, but I'd say, I'm strengthened mentally, and in other ways."

And those other ways certainly include his ability to empower everyone around him, by simply standing on his own two feet.