March 6, 2013 at 4:16 PM ET
In a sport where coaches normally covet size, Texas teenager Kevin Madison received a sobering diagnosis from his doctor nearly three years ago: He was too obese to play football.
Madison weighed almost 400 pounds as a junior in high school when he went to see Dr. Jules Greif at the Oak West Health Clinic in Dallas to get clearance to play football after deciding to try out for the team for the first time.
“Kevin was morbidly obese and having breathing problems,’’ Greif told NBC Dallas affiliate WOAI. “At that time there was no way that I was going to offer him that clearance to play football.”
Madison had been steadily putting on weight since middle school, and now had to watch as his friends played football without him.
“It felt really bad,’’ Madison said. “It felt bad knowing you have friends always asking you to join a game, and they get tired of the same answer: ‘No.’’’
While an attempt to play football served as his wakeup call, it was basketball that helped him ultimately turn his health around. He began working with a nutritionist to learn about portion control and healthy eating, and he soon became a regular on the local basketball courts. In the span of just one year, Madison shed 180 pounds.
"We were just making small changes as far as walking maybe every other day for 30 minutes, and then in a few months maybe add other activities that he liked to do,’’ his registered dietitian, Sharon Cox, told WOAI.
“We used to go to the court every time, and they noticed a change,’’ Madison said. “I was more active and (did) more running, and I was able to handle a whole entire game without stopping or quitting, and it made me feel really good."
After attaining his goal weight, Madison returned to Dr. Greif for a follow-up visit.
“I couldn’t believe it,’’ Greif said. “I was in total amazement.’’
Madison is still a mainstay on the basketball court more than two and a half years after Greif's initial diagnosis. He hopes his love of hoops will help him keep the weight off permanently.
“It's incredible,’’ he said. “I actually found something I enjoy without me even knowing that I'm losing weight."