Duke Strong

Local News

Duke Thompson is your average 11 year old. He loves sports. Baseball, basketball, soccer. He even runs 5K’s with his dad, Robinson basketball head coach Mack Thompson. But on Easter weekend, things changed for the 5th grader.

“I just pulled something in my groin. I went to go tell them I was hurting a little bit then went on with my business. Whenever I got home, I was really tired and then that’s when everything started to happen,” Duke recalled.

“We thought we were dealing with a groin injury, groin strain and the flu,” his mother, Brandie, said.

A trip to their primary physician revealed something far worse. Doctors found a blood clot in Duke’s groin. The Thompsons then visited Riley Children’s Hospital and found another clot in his lung.

“Initially, they were wondering why a healthy, overly active 11 year old would have blood clots. Then once all the blood work came back, they found that he had MRSA in his system,” Mack Thompson said.

Rather than finish up his 5th grade school year, Duke was in ICU, battling the MRSA infection. At the same time, his knee began to swell. So doctors were forced to act.

“They drilled a small hole in the femur to help some of the other infection come out of the bone, let the antibiotics get in there and do the magic it’s supposed to.”

Duke spent 18 days in the hospital, his parents right next to him the entire time. 

“At some points, I was really bad. I couldn’t walk. Couldn’t keep my eyes open. Or really keep my head up or anything,” said Duke.

But there were moments where Duke’s pain was put on hold. He had many people visit him in the hospital. He received countless messages, thoughts, prayers, and gifts. Duke even got a couple of messages from pro athletes, like Steve Weatherford and Myles Turner. “I can’t believe that people cared about me that much. I was happy to get visitors from everyone and some surprises I wasn’t expecting. It made me happy.”

It’s also made his parents realize that their 11 year old son is a lot tougher than they initially thought.

“Watching him go through something like this and the strength that he had, never complaining, it was just overwhelming to see the strength that an 11 year old boy can have going through something like this,” Brandie said.

Also overwhelming for the Thompsons is the support from so many people.

“There’s not enough thank you cards in Crawford County for us to write and we can’t thank everybody enough for everything,” Coach Thompson added.

So Duke just came home last week with sizable scars on his knee and leg, and now therapy begins to help him walk on his own. For the next few months, the speedster will have to get used to crutches and the fact that he temporarily may not be as quick as some classmates.

“I used to be one of the fastest kids in 5th grade but I’m probably one of the slowest ones now,” Duke joked.

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