, Port Arthur, Texas


February 23, 2013

Seahawks' Sims overcomes stroke to play again

PORT ARTHUR — For Evan Sims, shooting basketball down at the local YMCA was as natural as getting out of bed every morning. He would join his friends, have a few laughs, knock down a few jump shots and prove once again that he was destined for greatness on the basketball court.

On this particular day, though, destiny took a sinister turn.

Evan had been to his Houston-area Y plenty of times but today was different. As he shot around with his friends, he was just two days away from leaving to play college basketball at Baton Rouge Community College. It was his dream come true, the result of hundreds of hours of practice and hard work.

High School graduation from Cypress Springs had come and gone and he had already seen some of his best friends head off to chase their own dreams.

That day on the court, as he schooled his friends in hitting effortless short jumpers, Evan was contemplating his own future with a mixed feeling of anticipation for his college career and sadness over leaving his hometown behind.

Then he felt something else.

“I was shooting the ball and suddenly I stumbled backwards,” he remembers. “My friend, Leon, caught me and he kept asking me if I was OK. I couldn’t answer him.”

Evan lay back on a nearby bench, unable to comprehend what was happening to him. His mind raced but he couldn’t put together his thoughts. He tried to speak but no words would form on his lips.

Evan Sims, a 19-year-old phenom on the basketball court, was having a stroke.

“I knew something was wrong inside me,” he said. “They called my parents and they rushed to me to find out what was happening. I was in the hospital and I still couldn’t say anything.”

In the hospital, doctors scrambled to find a cause for Evan’s collapse. “They did an MRI, then they did a CAT scan,” he said.

The answer came like a sledgehammer into the world of a young man just starting his life … there was a hole in Evan’s heart, there from birth, and that defect had caused the young man to have a stroke.

“I was laying there in the hospital, trying to understand what was going on,” he said. “I was supposed to be leaving for college. That was the plan, not this. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

His friends from high school, some who were going to Baton Rouge CC as well, came by the hospital to check on Evan … and to say goodbye as they headed off to college.

“I cried,” he said. “I was supposed to be going with them.”

Instead, Evan lay in the hospital for two weeks and then started the painful journey to recovery. “I didn’t say a word for four months,” he said. “When I did start to speak again, I had to read kiddie books out loud to re-teach myself how to say things.”

Physically, he was back on his feet but was slower and less steady as he moved across the floor, far from the finely tuned athlete who dominated in the paint at Cypress Springs.

Eventually, doctors offered Evan a choice … heart surgery to repair the defect or an aspirin regimen that would thin his blood to prevent future clotting.

“They told me that if I had surgery I wouldn’t be allowed to play basketball ever again,” he said. “They told me I could take an aspirin every day and still be able to play.”

The choice for Evan was easy. He was medically cleared by his physicians, enabling him to return to the basketball court officially.

“I wanted to play and my family supported me in that,” he said.

It would have been easy for Evan to withdraw into the darkness of his situation, relinquishing his usual optimistic demeanor for self-pity and anger. Instead, with basketball as his driving force, he went to work.

He worked out to recondition his muscles, teaching his body how to function again, one step at a time. He estimates that during that period of time, he took a million shots at a basketball goal. It was his love of the sport that drove him to succeed but, he is quick to add, it was the love of his family and those in his church that made the difference.

“I see my stroke as something that changed my life but not completely in a bad way,” he said. “I got closer to God, closer to my family, and I was able to overcome what will likely be the biggest challenge in my life. I came out of this a stronger person, a better person.”

A year after his stroke, Evan was a legitimate college basketball prospect again. But with the head coach at Baton Rouge no longer there, Sims had a change of heart about his collegiate destination.

“I knew this was going to be my do-or-die year on the basketball court,” Sims said. “How I did this year would determine whether I played Division I NCAA basketball or NAIA. I needed to be at a school where I could shine.”

With offers coming from NJCAA Region XIV schools Navarro, San Jacinto and Lee colleges, Sims had his pick of the top programs in the league. Instead, and on the advice of his Baton Rouge CC coach and mentor James Rix, Evan met with new Lamar State-Port Arthur head coach Lance Madison.

“I asked Coach Rix what he thought and the first name he gave me was Coach Madison’s,” Evan said. “Coach Rix spoke so highly of Coach Madison and then he came down and watched me work out at a church in Houston, and later I worked out for him at Memorial High School in Port Arthur. Coach Madison offered me a full scholarship and I accepted.

“God was giving me all the signs that this is where I needed to be,” he said.

Evan is a solid force off the bench for the Seahawks this season. Standing 6-foot-8 and broad at the shoulders, Sims is strong in the paint and can knock down a silky-smooth jumper from the wing as though he’s done it his whole life.

With a few weeks left in the 2012-13 season for Lamar State, Sims has already gotten offers from Division I colleges like Abilene Christian University, Louisiana Tech, University of New Orleans, Chicago State and the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

“Knowing that I still have that hole in my heart, I think about that sometimes. Not a lot,” he said. “Me having a stroke? That’s never going to happen again. I already fought that battle and won.”

Text Only
  • Trophy stab 1.jpg WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work

    There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins

    It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.

    July 26, 2014

  • MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City

    The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City. 

    July 26, 2014

  • ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes

    The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.

    July 26, 2014

  • TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl

    Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.

    July 26, 2014

  • Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0

    The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog