In August of 2021, Jackson Wors was closing out his AAU (American Athletic Union) basketball season when he went down with a shoulder subluxation – which occurs when the bone that connects the shoulder to the arm pops in and out of place quickly – in the season finale.
Even playing with a suspect shoulder, Wors was productive, averaging 13.9 points and six rebounds on the season. However, this was not the last of the injury, as he reaggravated his shoulder the very next summer on the same play as before, but this time there was a tear in his labrum.
Wors was inevitably forced into surgery to repair the muscles in his shoulders after consistently popping out of place.
“The mental battle you go through is two times as hard [compared to] the physical part,” Wors said. “You don’t get to be a part of the team, and it’s a constant battle.”
Even after the surgery in June 2023, Wors has recovered quickly to have an impact on the court for Delta High School boys basketball this season. The senior is averaging nearly 13 points per game and has also surpassed 1,000 points in his career this season.
“I just think about all that I went through,” Wors said. “It shows the kind of person I am, and being able to hit a milestone like that while you’re going through the things I did was important to show I can do all of this: still win and play basketball.”
Wors also now has bragging rights over his father, David Wors, as he also passed up his scoring record for his high school career of 1,122 points.
“Honestly, was looking forward to him passing me,” David said.
Jackson’s lengthy recovery process began in the summer of 2021 with six weeks of physical therapy and he felt better after the first round of physical therapy. However, after the reaggravation in the summer of 2022, it was time to take some more serious action. It began with extreme-intensity physical therapy to attempt to restabilize the muscles. It required waking up at 5 a.m. five days a week to drive to Fishers, Indiana, then back home to Muncie for school at 8:30 a.m.
With the Eagles’ 2022-23 basketball season rapidly approaching, doctors gave the Wors family two options, either intense physical therapy throughout the season and surgery after the season; or surgery now and be ready for AAU season in the summer of 2023.
Jackson’s mother and father, David and Carrie Wors, wanted a second opinion and went on a hunt for the best shoulder surgeons in the country. The search landed them in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Gobezie Shoulder Institute.
“There was no cost or anything I wouldn’t do to make sure Jack had the best health care and the best doctors to help him get a diagnosis,” David said.
Even after a second opinion, the options remained the same. Ultimately, Jackson decided to play his junior season with Delta and get surgery following the campaign. After several months of physical therapy and staying in the gym to rebuild his shoulder muscles, the Wors family was feeling confident in Jackson’s ability heading into the season. They decided to start the year with no limitations and didn’t wear a brace to begin the year.
“We didn’t want anyone to know,” David said. “We were hoping he’d be able to get through it. [We hoped] people may not look at Jack and think he’s got an injury.”
The first two games of the season went smoothly for Jackson but in the third game of the year against Wabash, the same shoulder fully dislocated. David and Carrie were in tears at the sight of seeing their son continue to struggle through this injury and be in immense pain.
“The tears that he shed after every game, it was complete pain,” David said. “His mom and I wanted him to stop, but he wouldn’t quit. He just kept pushing through that pain and suffering, and that’s what no one knows.”
Despite being pushed to stop playing through the injury by his mother and father, Jackson persevered and let his love for his team and Indiana basketball continue to motivate him.
After the dislocation, the Eagles had a week between games, giving time for Jackson to nurse the injury. After that week, he was back on the hardwood, but his shoulder popped out of place multiple times per game.
“He could have easily shut it down last year,” Delta head coach Mark Detweiler said. “That shoulder popped out every week, in practice and games, and he still found a way to tough it out, pop it back in and move on.”
Throughout the season with most of Jackson’s time spent around the team and on the court, he got a tremendous amount of support from his teammates, one in particular was then-senior Blake Jones.
“[Blake] was the most supportive teammate I had last year,” Jackson said. “He was always there for me, there to pick me up off the court every time. He was just one of those guys that no matter what, he was there.”
Their relationship grew tremendously over the span of Jackson’s injury, allowing them to grow closer through the support Jones offered.
“Jackson was like a brother to me,” Jones said. “On and off the court we had good chemistry, and he was an awesome teammate, and a great leader for the guys as well.”
With Jackson playing a majority of the season with practically one arm, he still managed to perform at a very high level scoring 27, 20 and 21 points in three-straight postseason games en route to a semi-state appearance for the Eagles.
“I think it’s a testament to his mental toughness,” Detweiler said. “That’s been a big factor in our team's success with how he approaches things. It bleeds over into other guys and it’s helped our entire team.”
Following the 2022-23 season, Jackson was finally scheduled for surgery to repair his shoulder. However, he didn’t get that luxury so soon, as the surgery was delayed until June.
The timetable for the surgery was rather alarming with the delay because the recovery time expected was 9-12 months. Delta’s 2023-24 season was set to begin in 4-5 months, and Jackson was behind the eight ball.
When the surgery finally was accomplished, the rehab process began. Immediately following the procedure, most patients are expected to be in an arm sling for six weeks, but Jackson was out in a week.
“You’re going to wake up and have to do the stuff asked of you to get back healthy,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot harder than people think, and at times it almost takes you away from your life.”
Intense rehab persisted for the next four months, and Jackson could not shoot or even dribble the basketball. By November 2023, he was cleared to lift weights but was still deemed as ‘no contact’ on the basketball court. He was only able to participate in conditioning with his teammates.
With November coming to a close and the Delta season closing in on its opening game, Jackson was cleared for full contact.
Nearly three months later, Jackson has played all season for the Eagles with no reaggravations of his shoulder. He has helped lead the Eagles to a 14-6 record and earned the No. 8 overall ranking in Class 3A.
Jackson said he has memories that will last him a lifetime from his high school career and continues to use his comeback as motivation in hopes of replicating the success from the 2022-23 season.
“The experience at the end of the year, being able to go to semi-state, just the joy and the experience from that, and the memories, is the most fun I’ve had playing basketball my entire life. It was awesome to be a part of,” Jackson said.
Contact David Moore with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X @gingninj63