Living a life of happiness, but not the one he planned: Former National Champion, Twany Beckham finds a way to cope without playing the sport he loves

Mark Cornelison

Since graduating from the University of Kentucky, Louisville native Twany Beckham has lived a different life than expected. He planned to pursue a career in basketball to help not only himself but his mother. But that dream changed in an instance.

October is the month every basketball player looks forward to each season, it marks the beginning of a new year. This year, however in 2013 was a little different for Beckham though, it would change his life forever.

Mark Cornelison

Beckham had just transferred from Mississippi State the year prior and was expecting for his last and final season to be the best yet. He had worked out with a personal trainer in Atlanta that summer. “I had gotten into, like, the best shape of my career,” he said. Kentucky would be very thin with a reloaded Freshman class, so he thought this would be his time to shine. A school where he never thought he’d even been considered to be on the roster in the first place.

One morning weeks prior to Big Blue Madness, he awoke to no feeling in his legs. His basketball dream would then be over.

In denial, Twany went to practice. First in, a missed layup and still no feeling in his legs. “The day before in practice I was perfectly fine, so I thought that telling my trainer the next day that I couldn’t feel my legs would have sounded fishy.” He wrote in his book.

In fear of no one believing him, he’d try again. This time he’d have to tell the trainer. “There was no way I could go black into practice the way my body felt.” He stated.

Missed practices and days later an MRI would reveal the worst. Two herniated discs in his back. Three cortisone shots later with no relief, surgery was the final option he would have to choose.

On Jan. 29 2013, Beckham underwent back surgery. Basketball was over, but his team’s season wasn’t. He tried to find distraction from devastation in Kentucky’s win over Ole Miss (Nerlens Noel had 12 blocked shots) as they played that very night.

Beckham had a hard time with the news of his career having ended like this. His mother and God became central figures in his life. But he knew this wasn’t just a personal setback, it would end his chance of bringing financial stability to his family. “You just think you’re letting so many people down,” he said. “Your family is depending on you, especially when your family is in poverty. You want to help them. So I took it really hard.”

His mother reassured him that he had not let anyone down. “I just told him, ‘Don’t worry about me,” she said. “It’s your life.”

Fast Forward: September 20th, 2017- Hall of Famer Bill Walton would speak at Lexington’s Saint Joseph East Hospital about his own spinal procedure and the dark place he was in. Walton had invited Beckham, who would take the mic and tell about his own life changing journey.

“I lost all hope, I thought my life was over.” He said.

He went on to tell the audience about his dunking ability that he still had though:

“I can still dunk a basketball, which is intriguing to me, since my surgery, I’ve probably dunked a total of five times. And each time I dunked, it’s like everybody in the gym knows I dunked. I yelled.”

Attending church showed Beckham that everything in life has a purpose. As a senior at Kentucky, he wrote about the road less traveled but one he had taken in his new book titled Full-Court Press: Conquering Adversity under Pressure. A book that I can say belongs in your hands. It chronicles his life before Kentucky, hard times during his biggest triumphs and after his journey as a Wildcat is over. Buy it here.

In June 2017, Twany became a wellness director for the Kentucky Employee’s Health Plan. A job to promote wellness and encourage others. His journey and the message he wants to covey to the state is “I’m alive, I’m living.”



Recently, he set up a 30-day program for the winners to attend a Kentucky Basketball practice and meet Coach Cal himself. So for Twany, now it’s all about helping others around him live a better more healthy life.




Twany Beckham blogs

Just yesterday, Beckham went back to his old stomping grounds to film his “Behind the Life” series. He writes in his blog “Beecher Terrace is seen as a neighborhood where almost everyone has been locked up at some point.” This is a series that will come out soon and you may wanna take a look at when it is released. You can look for it here.

A project to take down the place where Beckham hails from is in the works, but the memories and the relationships made won’t ever be forgotten. Most of all, he tells he will never forget that he was one of the lucky ones who made it out.

Beckham is living his life the best way he knows how now that he’s overcome the obstacles life has thrown at him. He took to God and his faith to get him through one of the most devastating times in his life. He continues to be a strong influence to many young children around his former community and in the state of Kentucky. His time on the basketball court may be over but his time of changing lives is far from an end.

I have met Beckham a total of three times, given the choice I’d do it three more times.

Follow along with Twany Beckham and his journey on all of his social media platforms:


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