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I’m a die-hard sports fan. I live it. I breathe it. I sleep with it on my TV. Like any avid sports fan, my city doesn’t have to be in the mix for me to care about who wins the NBA championship or any other sports title for that matter.

So, not being a Cleveland resident or a life-long Cavs fan, I’ll take a different angle to all that’s being written today about the Cavs’ historic comeback. I’ll examine it from the perspective of sports being a microcosm of society and what it means to someone like me, a trial attorney, who works every day with people who, like the Cavs, are fighting to make a comeback and to overcome the most insurmountable obstacles.

Resiliency in the Face of Adversity

Resiliency is a ubiquitous term used in nearly every arena that involves recovery from adversity, hardship or a catastrophic event. Today, sportswriters across the country are rightfully characterizing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers as resilient. Despite the dejection of losing a pivotal, must-win Game 4 at home – leaving them staring at a 3-1 deficit no team in NBA history had ever overcome – somehow the Cavaliers found a way to bounce back. Not once, not twice, but winning three games in a row to eventually crown themselves NBA champions. A key to the Cavs’ resiliency, according to media reports, was the players’ ability to see the 3-1 deficit as an obstacle they could overcome and a “’we got this’ mindset” that enabled them to eventually achieve their ultimate goal of winning a championship.

Resiliency in the context of my everyday job carries similar meaning. “According to Neuman (2005), resilience is the ability to adapt when faced with tragedy, trauma, adversity, hardship and continuous significant life stressors.”[i] As a personal injury attorney, I help people who have been catastrophically injured or have lost loved ones in tragic accidents that should never happen. When my clients experience life-changing injuries, achieving complete recovery – and resiliency – is far from guaranteed, and recovery from the wrongdoer is critical to helping people get the help they need to make long-term resiliency a real possibility. Litigation plays a critical role in helping people withstand the effects of their injuries and access the resources they need to achieve resiliency. During the process, it is my responsibility to counsel my clients in ways that strengthen resilience – to listen when they need support; to help them see things in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective; and to help them maintain a sense of hope, within reason, during the most devastating time in their lives.

An Improbable Comeback

The Cavaliers became the first team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to win the NBA Finals. They beat a team that had won a record number of games and hadn’t lost three consecutive games at any point in the past two seasons. By definition: an improbable comeback.

When I think of improbable comebacks, I think of some of the clients our firm has represented across 30 years of practice. I think of Dzemila who was rendered quadriplegic after the seatback in her car failed during an accident. When we first met her, she was nearly bedridden, living in a tiny home that lacked accessibility and getting around in a homemade wheelchair made by her sons who were her only caretakers. Today, she lives on a beautiful ranch, enjoying some restored independence in a fully accessible home and getting around in a professional wheelchair, with access to the resources she needs on a daily basis.

When I think of improbable comebacks, I think about Chad, a young man paralyzed in an accident caused by a defective shoulder belt system and tire defects. Today, he has a thriving video business and is happily married. And, I think of Joshua, a young man who suffered life-changing injuries when the airbag in his vehicle exploded and shot metal shrapnel in his face. Despite the injuries he sustained and the long recovery he endured, he has returned to work and found a way to restore some sense of normalcy in his life.

Not all clients have a silver lining to their stories. Like the Cavs, our clients are always the underdogs, going up against the Goliaths of Corporate America who choose profits over human safety and well-being. I congratulate the Cavaliers on a monumental victory – one I will never forget. To my clients – the ones I’ve had the privilege of helping – I’m honored to have been on your team. To those clients I’ve yet to meet – we got this.

[i] Rees, R. “Resilience of people with traumatic brain injury and their careers.” InPsych. April 2012.

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