Since his freshman season with the Lehigh men’s basketball team, senior center Jack Lieb has had to overcome several career-threatening injuries.
Lieb broke his foot during his first official season practice as a freshman. Following a quick recovery, he returned to the court before conference play. The injury reappeared, however, and he needed to get surgery.
The broken bone in his foot has since led to further complications, which had prevented Lieb from participating. But the complications didn’t stop when he stopped playing — during the summer heading into his sophomore year, Lieb acquired nerve damage and muscle atrophy from the second surgery.
Yet, even with constant numbness and lack of motor functions in his foot, Lieb continued to persevere.
“I’ll never give up on the dream of playing,” Lieb said. “I’ll never shy away from this passion that I have.”
Modeling his work ethic after his father, Lieb solidified his passion for basketball in high school and later committed to play for a Division I program.
Lieb said he refused to dwell on his obstacles. His journey has taught him to develop toughness and seek out the positives of every negative situation.
Lieb said the unconditional support he receives from his teammates has helped him endure this long, and sometimes frustrating, recovery experience.
Coach Brett Reed said however unfortunate his physical circumstances may be, Lieb has positively impacted the program in other ways.
Although he has not been able to contribute in the ways he originally anticipated, Lieb said he sees the game from a different perspective now. He has provided guidance from the sideline and has remained an integral part of the team.
“I’m proud of his determination and mindset to control what he can control and maximize his situation despite being injured,” Reed said. “He is resilient.”
His teammates and coaches said these qualities speak to who Lieb is not only as a person, but also as a player. As the true embodiment of the team’s values and virtues, he was named co-captain for the 2019-2020 season, along will fellow teammates senior guard Jordan Cohen and junior center James Karnik.
Cohen said although Lieb has been through countless trials of adversity, his positive outlook has given him the strength to get through it.
“His injuries have changed his life exponentially,” Cohen said. “Although he has had a different path, he has matured because of it.”
Reed said he believes Lieb has a bright future ahead of him, even if basketball is not a part of that.
Lieb said his adversity, along with the positive takeaways from the game, will shape him into who he will be following graduation. He said he is eager to share his story, and he does not shy away from his past, but rather embraces it, using it to fuel him and his ambitions.
“I always want to be around basketball,” Lieb said. “I’ve learned a lot from it, and I’m committed to the game and the opportunities it’s given me.”
Lieb’s passion for the game and dedication to his teammates extends beyond the court’s sidelines.