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Football career on hold for ex-Westminster star after aneurysm
by Greg Oshust
June 25, 2013 02:31 PM | 5702 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special / Beverly Schaefer<br>
Princeton cornerback Khamal Brown, left, a former Westminster standout, pursues a Columbia ball carrier during a game last season.
Special / Beverly Schaefer
Princeton cornerback Khamal Brown, left, a former Westminster standout, pursues a Columbia ball carrier during a game last season.
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Khamal Brown was establishing himself as a key member of the Princeton football team last fall.

However, a brain aneurysm caused by an AVM suffered last October, changed everything for the sophomore cornerback and former Westminster standout.

Brown is on the road to recovery – still hopeful to return to the football field in 2014, but now focused on restoring himself to full health.

“I just had an MRI [two weeks ago] and the doctor said everything was going according to plan,” Brown said. “Hopefully, I will be fully recovered soon.”

Brown stepped into the Princeton lineup as a freshman in 2011, starting nine games and leading all underclassmen on the team with 51 tackles – including a season-best nine tackle performance against Ivy League rival Dartmouth.

Brown picked up where he left off his sophomore year in ’12. He started the first four games of the season, recording eight tackles against Lehigh and getting the first interception of his college career in a game against Georgetown.

“It was definitely an adjustment from my [high school career at Westminster],” Brown said. “But, I thought I was coming along well. I started some games as a freshman – which I thought was really cool, because I didn’t expect that. But, I obviously still have a lot of work to get where I need to be, where I want to be, by the time I graduate.”

Then, his promising college career jarringly came to a complete stop during practice the week of Princeton’s game with Ivy League foe Brown as he passed out without contact.

“I don’t remember it much,” Brown said.” I just remember that I had a really, really big headache and everything else was a blur after that until later on in the hospital.”

Brown was diagnosed with an AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, a congenital condition which is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain.

“I didn’t know I had it [beforehand],” Brown said. “Nobody had any idea.”

Brown was operated on twice – the first surgery to relieve the pressure and stop the bleeding in his brain and the second operation soon after that to permanently fix the condition.

After being released from the hospital a month later, he missed classes for the rest of the 2012-13 academic year as well as missing the remainder of the football season as he recovered from the AVM.

While he is not able to engage in any intense training, Brown said he is allowed to do light workouts.

“Pretty much the only restrictions I have, I can’t lift over my body weight,” Brown said. “But, [lifting] anything under that, and running, is fine.”

While he will miss the 2013 season, Brown is resuming classes as a sophomore this fall and has hopes to return to the gridiron for Princeton in 2014.

“I have a doctor’s visit in late October or early November and I’m going to have a minor surgery – an angiogram-type thing,” Brown said. “After they check that and everything is all right, hopefully, I will be able to lift [weights] after that and my goal is to be back by spring ball next year.”

For Brown, the experience has changed the way he approaches his life.

“It’s definitely taught me to take advantage of every opportunity,” Brown said. “You never know what’s going to happen and everything takes work. This has definitely been a hard time, but I think I will go back to school with a greater appreciation of everything and work a little harder at everything.”

At Westminster, Brown was a two-year starter as a wide receiver and defensive back and was a first-team All-Region 6AA selection as a senior in 2010.

“Khamal was a great asset to our team, a complete student-athlete,” Westminster assistant coach Joe Sturniolo said. “He started with us as a sophomore and was an average player who worked hard to make himself an exceptional player. By the time he was a senior, everyone on the team looked at him as a leader, both on the field and off.”
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