Frank Martin’s near-death experience debuted for a national audience Sunday morning. He knew the majority of the details that were revealed on the 10 a.m. SportsCenter – from the initial pain he felt in a Manhattan, Kansas, hotel room to the hospital visit to the miraculous recovery.
But, at the end of the seven-minute piece, something took the South Carolina men’s basketball coach aback.
“In 2010, the Kansas City Star published the only article written on Frank’s near-death experience,” read white words on a black screen. “Days later, multiple people left messages with the newspaper saying they’d experienced a similar encounter with the critically ill. A nurse who matched the Martin family’s description appeared by their bedside, and several days later they were healed. All of them said the only explanation was a miracle.”
Martin had no idea the unidentified Asian nurse had appeared to others. Bill Reiter, who wrote the 2010 story for the Star and still carries a deep friendship with Martin, never alerted him of such information.
“When I saw that,” Martin said, “I was like, ‘Wow.’ ”
Joe Perez-Jones, Martin’s uncle and godfather, was reportedly standing outside the hospital room when the nurse approached him. She told Perez-Jones she wanted to pray before Martin, in an effort to cure him. Martin’s temperature at that point had reached 105 degrees.
“You gotta understand, I was like on the dark side,” Martin said Monday at Colonial Life Arena. “So I don’t recall any of this happening. But I know my wife and my uncle, the two people that were there, when they start speaking about it, I know they’re moved to tears and to nerves.
“So I know the impact of that moment, that nurse, angel. No one at that hospital, to this day, has any idea who that was. I’ve sat with my uncle, who I got a special bond with, and seen the emotion, his hand shaking 12 years later, of feeling the heat coming through his body as that lady was praying over me. That’s powerful stuff, man.”
USC forward Chris Silva, after watching the piece, called it “powerful” Monday. Point guard Wes Myers said it spoke to Martin’s resiliency and fight as a person. Neither of those Gamecocks knew their coach nearly died in 2006.
Sunday morning was only the second time the story’s been presented publicly.
Kentucky coach John Calipari phoned Martin on Monday morning to tell him his priest spoke about it in Mass.
ESPN producer Kristen Lappas told The State on Monday that Martin’s interview took place in early February. The initial request came a year earlier.
“I wasn’t going to do it at first,” Martin said. “And then I went back to (USC men’s basketball media contact Emily Miles). I said, ‘You know what? It’s a powerful thing. And if you can help someone else out there realize that it’s real. And just the importance of faith and prayer and God and all those things. If it gives someone else hope, why not?’
“It was a difficult chapter in my life. It gives me a lot of perspective for how I live. It’s hard for my family to speak about it because it was an uncomfortable three-week period.”
USC (16-15, 7-11 SEC) begins SEC tournament play Wednesday against Ole Miss (12-19, 5-13). Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. in St. Louis.
Who: USC (16-15, 7-11 SEC) vs. Ole Miss (12-19, 5-13)
When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday
Radio: 107.5 FM