17-year-old Jalen Scales is now five years a competitive cheerleader, but there was a time for Scales, when he wasn’t sure it would always be that way.
“I was tumbling with my coaches, and I landed and felt not a pop, but a sharp pain,” says Scales.
This was Jalen’s second time around. He knew something was wrong.
“I didn’t want to say anything because I had finished another surgery. I didn’t want to go through the same process,” says Scales.
He was diagnosed with a focal-cartilage defect, meaning there wasn’t proper blood flow to the cartilage in his knee.
His mother, Tameka Nails, says, “Once I took him back this time, they said there was three bones literally floating around in his knee, and they didn’t know how he was even walking.”
Taking a year off cheer season, Jalen says there was only a 50/50 chance his knee would be back to normal.
“I was very depressed. I was mad for no reason all the time,” says Scales.
After receiving a donor’s bone, Jalen jumped right back onto the mat.
“When I started tumbling again, I felt more powerful. My knee actually felt stronger than it did before to be honest,” says Scales.
His mother was proud of her son.
“Like okay that’s my boy. He’s back, he’s back on it, he has it,” says Nails.
Nails pushed her son to watch practice, even in recovery.
She says it helped encourage a positive attitude, and he can now help others.
“Just don’t give up. If anything, work harder in the things you can. Just don’t be stressed out,” says Scales.
Jalen says he didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up until his surgeries. After all he had been through, he now wants to be a physical therapist.