“THE ADVERSITY I FACED AS A CHILD HELPED MAKE ME THE FIGHTER I AM TODAY.”
Antrone “Juice” Moore has had more than his share of fights in his 36 years. As often as he’s gotten knocked down, he’s gotten right back up and continued to fight. Between fighting to stay out of trouble as a kid, to fighting for his life after having a stroke as an adult, he now devotes his life to “Fighting it Forward” by running a basketball program for kids and working with others to share his knowledge experience of surviving a stroke.
Antrone, we appreciate you sharing your story with us. You’ve fought more than your share of rounds. We are truly inspired by your Fighting Spirit. You may live in Maine, but you’re still part of the Everybodyfights Community.
As a young black male, I had inspirations of being a professional athlete, whether it was baseball, football or basketball. I was really good at a young age because at that time that’s all we did. It wasn’t like today, where there are many other options for recreation, including iPhone, iPad, Computer, etc.
Growing up in the hood, in Southside of Chicago, I saw a lot and had to grow up real fast because I was an only child and the oldest grandchild. I was exposed to gang violence all around me in my neighborhood and had several friends and family lose their life from the hand of a gun.
I was raised by my Grandma, who we called “Mama George,” my mom was “Mom Dukes” and my Aunt was “Auntie Pookie.” They were very strong women and equally as strict with me. I was teased a lot as a kid. Today it would be considered bullying. I was a boy who loved to be in school and be educated about a lot of different subjects that I knew I would need in life. I would always ask questions because I didn’t understand some things, and I would be teased about that. My Grandma and Mom Dukes really pushed me to defend myself, because they knew if I did, I would never have to worry about being bullied again. They were right.
I had my share of tough times growing up, and often had to overcome adversity, which caused me to shut down. The only way I made it through was the tender loving care and comfort of my Grandma. She was my angel. She had the ability to foresee a lot before it happened.
I started playing basketball at age 5. As I became a teenager, it was all I thought about – the only sport I wanted to play. Being a young black man, trying to get my family out of the situation we were in, with trouble around every corner and tremendous financial hardship, I used basketball as a way out for my family and me. My Uncle Spanky saw my potential and encouraged me to utilize my talents to get a basketball scholarship.
I went on to play at Lincoln University in Missouri for Coach Bill Pope. I then transferred to the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Augusta. While at UMA, I was named to the Division II All America Team. After graduation, I began a semi-pro career, playing for teams including the Lake County Lakers, Windy City Monarchs and Harlem Ambassadors. Soon after, I began coaching for Team Fort Worth, an AAU team in Fort Worth, Texas.
I returned to Augusta in 2012. On September 26th, I suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke at age 37. An hour before my stroke I wrote this and posted it on Facebook:
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
After writing what seemed like my own eulogy, I went to the gym, worked out on the elliptical machine, and as I stepped off, realized I was in trouble. I was having a stroke.
At Maine Medical Center, I lay in ICU, in a coma, for eleven days. I was given a 50/50 chance of survival.
I had a lot happen to me while I was in the coma, including an out of body experience that kept me fighting. I looked down at my body, as I lay helpless. There were three people in my room, one of them my mother. She was crying, saying “You have to fight! Fight! Fight! Your daughters need you, son, and I need you.” That’s what made me fight – hard. If this was my last time, I wanted to come back and say “I love you.”
I spent a lot of nights staring at the wall on my left side, and I still do, even now. When I was in the coma Mom Dukes would always ask me, “What are you looking at?” She was talking to me, but I wasn’t here, I was in another world on the other side.
When I woke from the coma, I was paralyzed and couldn’t walk or talk. I was told that I would be confined to a wheelchair. I wouldn’t settle for that. I knew I would have to learn everything all over again, back to when I was an infant. It was a struggle, to say the least. But being in the environment I grew up in, I learned to be tough through the struggle of being poor. It helped me survive.
My youngest daughter, Keyanna, who was 7 years old, was not told initially about what happened. At the time they brought her in to first see me after my stroke, I was in a very depressed state. When she saw me she said “Daddy, get out of that bed.” I said, “I can’t, Keke.” She said, “Yes, you can.” After she left I cried hard because I didn’t know if I would ever be able to walk again. I didn’t know if I would ever play with my daughters again. My 11-year old daughter Takila, who was in Chicago, asked on the phone, “Daddy, why do you sound like that?”
My daughters were my motivation to want to get better, but God was my strength to getting better. With the help of great physical and occupational therapists, I overcame the inevitable. There aren’t many who come back after suffering a massive hemorrhage, coma, and 2 months in the hospital. Some don’t ever come back at all.
I am a fighter, and I have survived. I lead a healthy lifestyle through eating right and rigorous exercise. Not only was I able to learn to walk again, I am able to run up and down the court. I’m only 40% still walking with a limp, but you can’t tell unless you knew me before. I lost a lot of friends and family when I became disabled, but I hold on to the few friends and family that really care for my well-being.
Today, I am coaching and have my own AAU Basketball youth team. I also volunteer for the Maine Stroke Association and at Maine General Hospital as a peer navigator, which helps those who are sick to overcome their obstacles. I help them get to their doctors’ appointments, talk to them over the phone, visit with them, and share my story. It’s important to let them know I really care and know what they are going through. My plans are to be a motivational speaker to help people from all walks of life, young and old. I hope that others can learn from my fighting spirit.
My father is now in my life. He also had two strokes, and wasn’t as fortunate as I was to successfully rehabilitate. But he’s still the most jolly, hard-working man I know. I look up to him so much, and I consider him the real hero.
I know how lucky I am that I survived. I know that the adversity I faced as a child helped make me the fighter I am today. Giving up was never an option. I am forever indebted to my Grandma, my Auntie Pookie and my Mom Dukes, who were always in my “corner.” All those times I thought I had no more rounds left in me, I heard my corner yelling at me to keep fighting. And to this day, I have never stopped.