Upon first meeting Shelby Shipley, you are immediately aware that this young woman is on a mission similar to that of the rapper Lecrae. For her, it’s never been “about her.” She simply feels that her incredible story puts toward her faith.
You might recognize the name “Shipley” from Texas. Shelby’s two brothers Jaxon & Jordan will forever live in Texas Longhorns’ football lore. As standout wide receivers, the two have been fan favorites since day one and Longhorn quarterbacks’ favorite targets. Like her brothers, Shelby is a great athlete.
Shelby took her basketball talents to Abilene Christian University four years ago. A bright athletic future took a major detour when she tore both her ACL & MCL her freshman year. After a grueling rehab process, Shelby was close to being cleared to play again when she tore her ACL a second time in the same knee. A third knee surgery sidelined Shelby prior to being cleared. Doctors evaluated Shelby’s injury and determined that it would be nearly impossible for her to play at a collegiate level with her knee’s current state. She had no cartilage left and was walking with bone-on-bone grinding the joints. Shelby was upset but clung close to her faith, knowing that there was a bigger plan in place.
On a leap of faith one night, she attended what she thought was a college extracurricular class. It ended up being a healing conference – something very far away from the conservative Church of Christ upbringing she was accustomed to. Almost out of a television show, the speaker at the conference started rattling off Shelby’s story to the exact details, but never once calling her out by name. After he finished, a small group began to pray for Shelby, hands on the young lady.
She can’t explain it but simply faith and God, but the next day Shelby was walking. Better yet, she was running. “One day I couldn’t hardly run to the next day I’m beating my teammates in sprints. And I haven’t had the slightest knee pain in the three years since.”
Shelby returned to playing basketball until this past February when she began to randomly have double-vision. It went from an occasional occurrence to her struggling daily, with 90% of Shelby’s day blurred with two of everything. Countless tests, MRIs, and two spinal taps left doctors clueless as to what was causing Shelby’s loss of vision. There was no plausible explanation they told her. All this time Shelby struggled with basketball, knowing that without her vision, she would be forced to leave the sport she dearly loved.
“I’m from a coaching family. We don’t quit. It’s not even an option in our house,” Shelby told Compete Every Day.
But life forced a different hand and Shelby’s health dictated a new path.
Last month, after calling over 15 doctors and eye specialists regarding Shelby’s deteriorating eye condition, a doctor unknown to the family, heard about Shelby’s condition and put in a call. The doctor requested to see Shelby even though they had not called him. Immediately upon seeing her did he diagnose the problem – something countless other professionals had failed to. Shelby was suffering from a muscle weakness in the eye. Many people struggle with this and it can happen at a moment’s notice with nothing to cause the sudden weakness.
So on January 9, 2013, Shelby will undergo surgery on both eyes and start the recovery process to having her vision fully restored. She hopes to return to school in February and finish out her last few months at ACU before graduation
“How did you deal with all of the uncertainty, the constant injury, the setbacks, Shelby?”
“Faith.” Shelby knew there was a bigger plan in place than what she could see immediately in front of her. So she had no choice but to cling to God and the faith she had in His plan. Through uncertainties and setbacks, Shelby knew it was simply setting her up for something much better. No matter how dark the darkness, no matter how difficult the struggle, always keep the faith and continue to compete.
“A setback is simply a setup for a great comeback.”