Dave Eggen

When you look through the box scores of Sioux Falls Skyforce games, the name Nigel Spikes doesn’t exactly jump off the page. To know his story makes every accomplishment big or small incredibly meaningful.

Shortly after graduating from Marshall University, Spikes suffered a heart attack at the age of 23 with no apparent reason or warning signs. “That day it was different. At the time it happened the only thing I could think about was if I was going to stay alive or if I was going to die. I didn’t know what was going on.”

His world dwindled down to just trying to live another day and Spikes struggled in the early stages. “It was hard. After I got out of the hospital and get back to day-to-day habits I couldn’t do everything I was used to doing.”

Since Spikes loves the game he was still drawn to it while in recuperation. Obviously to be unable to participate was excruciating. “Throughout that year I sat out, it was hard to watch. Before (the heart attack) I was playing basketball everyday. When you can’t do it, it drives you a little crazy.”

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Gradually he regained his strength and the doctors opened the possibility for Spikes to play again. Nigel dove into extensive research of players who have recovered from heart problems and returned to playing. “There are actually a couple of guys in the NBA that had open heart surgery like Jeff Green and Ronny Turiaf. After reading their stories it gave me the motivation to keep fighting.”

He has come a long way and Skyforce Head Coach Dan Craig has noticed how Spikes embraces his opportunity. “He has an ability to touch the staff and the players in a positive way every day. Comes to work with a smile on his face and works extremely hard. He’s a very humble individual that enjoys hard work and learning the game. Off the court he’s a guy that any team would want in the locker room.”

Nigel went through the local tryout process to make the roster. That is one of the hardest avenues to establish a foothold in the NBA Development League. His sights are still focused on getting better every day.

There’s something to be said for being able to live as if you’re dying. Nigel Spikes is blessed with extra time on this earth and is making the most of it.