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- 10/16/15--11:03: _Lamar Odom Is Doing...
- 10/16/15--11:44: _Chicago Vs. New Yor...
- 10/16/15--17:06: _Quarterback Johnny ...
- 10/17/15--06:42: _6 Things We Learned...
- 10/16/15--16:06: _5 Must-Have Qualiti...
- 10/18/15--21:35: _Adam Goodes Signs W...
- 10/19/15--03:27: _34 Tweets Guarantee...
- 10/19/15--05:38: _This Hilarious Phot...
- 10/19/15--15:24: _Knicks Owner Denies...
- 10/19/15--15:38: _Dave Smith Quits As...
- 10/19/15--17:23: _Lamar Odom Takes Fi...
- 10/19/15--19:02: _Drake, Election, Ja...
- 10/20/15--05:48: _25 Fans Who Deserve...
- 10/20/15--08:44: _American Ballet The...
- 10/20/15--09:44: _Someone Has Designe...
- 10/21/15--06:29: _How Well Do You Rem...
- 10/21/15--02:58: _The Hardest Footbal...
- 10/21/15--09:04: _This Homecoming Que...
- 10/21/15--14:09: _There Is A Major Ba...
- 10/21/15--10:26: _This Mom’s Letter T...
- 10/16/15--11:03: Lamar Odom Is Doing A "Tiny Bit Better," Source Says
- 10/16/15--11:44: Chicago Vs. New York: The Ultimate Showdown
- 10/17/15--06:42: 6 Things We Learned From Liverpool's First Match Under Jurgen Klopp
- 10/16/15--16:06: 5 Must-Have Qualities For USC's Next Football Coach
- 10/18/15--21:35: Adam Goodes Signs With David Jones, Immediately Cops Racist Abuse
- 10/19/15--03:27: 34 Tweets Guaranteed To Make Football Fans Laugh Every Time
- 10/19/15--15:24: Knicks Owner Denies Sexual Harassment Claims Despite Jury's Verdict
- 10/19/15--15:38: Dave Smith Quits As CEO Of NRL
- 10/20/15--05:48: 25 Fans Who Deserve A Medal For Their Genius
- 10/20/15--08:44: American Ballet Theatre's Stella Abrera Is Just Getting Started
- 10/20/15--09:44: Someone Has Designed The Perfect Google Doodle Tribute To Sehwag
- 10/21/15--06:29: How Well Do You Remember These '90s Premier League Goalkeepers?
- 10/21/15--02:58: The Hardest Football Rivalry Quiz You'll Take Today
Metta World Peace’s brother also shared an update on Lamar Odom’s medical condition on Facebook.
Lamar Odom in 2010.
Paul Sancya / AP
"He is doing a tiny tiny bit better than yesterday," the source said.
In the days since Odom was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel after using cocaine and sexual performance enhancers, reports about his medical status have been conflicting and unconfirmed by his family or the Las Vegas hospital he is being treated in.
Daniel Artest — brother of Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace — posted on Friday to Facebook an update about Lamar Odom's condition.
Really hoping I can see LO before I leave. I know he's had a good day yesterday and last night. Docs still monitoring. Yesterday he was able to open his eyes a bit. He's sedated heavily. They'll up and down the dosage to monitor the brain activity which is better than they expected. He tried to bite out the tube in his throat. He also was able to squeeze his wife hand, Kim hand as well. Still not out the woods but it's better than nothing and those crazy media reports. Also as far as the tv show camera there. It's all false. It's very quiet up there. If u not Fam u can't get up there. Keep praying for progress.
Which city is better?
Stephen Dunn / Getty Images
The Browns quarterback and his girlfriend were driving home Monday after drinking in Cleveland when an argument between them escalated, according to a police report.
Jeff Gross / Getty Images
Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was stopped by police Monday night for driving recklessly during an argument with his girlfriend, police reported.
Witnesses called police in Avon, Ohio, after seeing Manziel and his girlfriend, TCU student Colleen Crowley, arguing in his car. Manziel — who has sought treatment for alcohol abuse in the past — told police that they had been drinking in Cleveland earlier in the day with plans to see a movie, but that when he wanted to pick up a friend, she became upset and want to go home in Avon.
According to a police report, Manziel said he had Crowley's phone on his lap and was using it to control the music during the drive when she "began accusing him of 'driving bad.'"
He then stated that Ms. Crowley grabbed his wallet, which was in the center divider and threw it out of the window. Mr. Manziel then stopped his vehicle and turned around in order to look for the wallet.
After parking, he stated that "She did try to get out of the car."
He then admitted to "trying to grab her arm to keep her from 'riding' out of the car".
He was asked if at any point there was any striking, punching or pulling of hair, in which Mr. Manziel responded, "NO."
According to the report, Crowley told police "[t]he argument in Avon progressed when she asked for her cell phone and when Mr. Manziel wouldn't give it back to her."
Crowley admitted to throwing the wallet out the window, telling officers she wanted her cell phone back so that she "could call her parents for help [...] to get her back to Texas," the report states.
Crowley also accused Manziel of pushing her head against the glass and hitting her "a couple times in the car." Officers did note a "small abrasion" on her wrist, which was determined to be as a result of Manziel trying to keep her inside the car.
During the stop, officers determined that Crowley was intoxicated, but, despite noting the odor of alcohol, cleared Manziel, who reported having "two alcoholic drinks several hours prior."
No arrests were made, and the couple was free to leave after talking to police for just under 40 minutes. Crowley told officers she "felt fine leaving with Manziel," according to the police report.
A witness, Jackie Clarke, gave a statement to police after Manziel had left the scene:
She advised that she was traveling in the high speed lane of westbound IR 90, east of Nagel Road, believed to be in the City of Westlake. Suddenly a white Nissan passed her on her left side, utilizing the left hand berm, at what she thought was around 90 MPH.
As they entered into the City of Avon, the vehicle cut over several lanes of travel and began to exit at Nagel Road.
As Ms. Clark was passing the slowing Nissan, she observed what appeared to be a white female passenger trying to open her door, with the white male driver holding her back. She described it appeared the driver's arm and elbow were around the neck of the female pulling her inside the car.
In a statement to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer said:
We were aware of the situation. It is a matter that we take seriously and have expressed our concerns to Johnny directly.
Those conversations will remain private and we will refrain from further comment at this time.
Manziel voluntarily entered rehab for alcohol abuse in January and was discharged in April.
Will they gegenpress on after their 0-0 draw with Spurs?
This man has started well under Klopp.
Simon Mignolet was excellent for Liverpool, he sometimes makes simple things look difficult, but he was safe as houses for his club today, and often is in big matches.
Under Brendan Rodgers, the system of playing it out from the back sometimes made Mignolet look bad, his defenders would lazily pass the ball around the back, and when it came back to Mignolet, the opposing team would pounce and force a mistake.
He certainly wasn't the best man for the job when it came to playing Brendan Rodgers' system, but he's made a good start under Klopp, playing in a sweeper role as the defenders push up as far as the halfway line.
Mignolet's decision making is generally pretty sound, so this should be a role that suits him.
John Powell / Getty Images
Gegenpressing is hard...
Liverpool came out of the traps at lightning pace, and it almost paid off early on. Tottenham struggled to get on the ball, and were at sixes and sevens in the first 20 minutes or so.
But after 30 minutes, the pace dropped and Liverpool started to revert back to the slow, aimless build-up play that is so easy to read, and made them so predictable and impotent under Rodgers.
Stan Collymore wrote that he thinks Liverpool's new system will be heavily reliant on them scoring the first goal, and then controlling the game from there.
And it certainly seems that, from today's evidence, the longer the game goes on without Liverpool scoring, the more chance their opposition have of getting control of the game and exposing tiring players who can't keep up that level of intensity for 90 minutes.
But it can work - particularly defensively.
It took Borussia Dortmund a fair amount of time to fully develop the playing style Klopp is now famous for. But when they got there, they were magnificent.
And from today's evidence, Liverpool look to have learned the basics quickly, particularly at the back.
But what about the other end of the pitch?
Ian Kington / AFP / Getty Images
Sadly, Liverpool are, and probably will be, lacklustre in the final third for a little while longer.
Over the past year or so, Liverpool's attackers have had an uncanny ability to bore people to tears.
They played at times almost as if they were afraid of the box, skirting around it, making sideways pass after sideways pass, until Henderson, Gerrard or Coutinho eventually got bored and fired off a shot from 20 yards.
Jurgen Klopp will have to go some way to reach the dizzy heights of Liverpool's dazzling Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling combo, especially given only one of those players is still at the club, and his career looks as if it could be perennially hampered by injury.
But one man who does have the ability to flourish under this system is Benteke. Playing with one man up front requires an all-rounder, someone who can hassle defenders and pull the opposition out of shape, someone who can get a head on the ball, someone who will take their opportunities when they get them.
It requires fast feet, somebody comfortable with the majority of play coming through a crowded and narrow middle channel, sometimes it even just requires somebody who will get out the way and let the midfielders through the gap.
Christian Benteke fits the mould, but who should play behind him?
Ian Kington / AFP / Getty Images
To rekindle the spirit of Troy, USC needs to prioritize key characteristics over name recognition
In the wake of Steve Sarkisian's firing this week, the sports mediaverse has been littered with lists of names that could take over as the Trojans' next head coach. USA Today led the obligatory mainstream roll call ranging from pipe dreams to usual suspects. 247Sports made it interesting, posting odds on who will take the job. Even Forbes weighed in.
With almost two months to go until a new coach is named, most if not all candidates currently employed elsewhere, and virtually no clarity as to who on the wish list actually wants the job, those musings are little more than white noise. What USC and its boosters, alumni and fans can focus on right now are the attributes needed in the next coach and how they'll translate to success. Whoever takes over, here's what he needs to bring to the table:
Catch a quick glimpse and you can't miss it: Baylor plays at the speed of light. Michigan is freakishly physical. Utah is as disciplined as it gets.
Baylor and Utah pale in comparison to USC's rich heritage and Michigan was in shambles as recently as last season, but all three are better than the Trojans today because they know who they are.
Last time USC knew who it was, the man patrolling the sidelines was affectionately known as Big Balls Pete. Carroll's Trojans were fiercely competitive, relentlessly on the attack, and invariably able to adjust on the fly. Not coincidentally, USC hasn't sniffed the Promised Land since its identity was known to all and feared by opponents.
One ingredient missing from any passable description of the Trojans' current identity is toughness, both physical and mental.
Physically, USC is often overwhelmed when it should be able to hold its own. Stanford, for example, with rigid academic standards severely limiting its ability to recruit top athletes, routinely wears the Trojans down and pushes them around.
USC also tends to get more than it can handle from lesser competition with a mental edge. Just last week, an inferior Washington team demonstrated this in what turned out to be Sarkisian's final game.
While Sarkisian's shortcomings have been well documented, his game planning ability consistently got the Trojans off on the right foot. Once opponents adjusted, however, USC could rarely counter.
This season's loss to Stanford serves as a strong case study. The Trojans moved the ball at will while jumping out to a commanding early lead, then the Cardinal adapted. USC lost the line of scrimmage and seemingly every other matchup for the remainder of the night.
It's difficult to recall a recent loss in which the Trojans weren't out-coached, regardless of the game plan.
“You don’t see many Aboriginals shopping at David Jones.”
Less than a month after retiring from the AFL at the end of a torrid season full of racial controversy, two-time Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes has been been flooded with abusive messages after he was announced as the new face of a David Jones campaign.
Goodes appears in David Jones' new It's In You campaign alongside five other well-known Australians.
"I am committed to using my name to advocate the things that are important to me, especially education, to create a better Australia for all Australians and I believe this role will give me the opportunity to do this," Goodes said as his new position was announced over the weekend.
But it was the former AFL superstar who was singled out for abuse.
Hundreds of comments flooded David Jones' Facebook page declaring they would never shop at the department store again. Many of them writing "boo" - a reference to the booing Goodes constantly received on the field - while others called him a monkey.
“Just ads, ads and some more ads because ads.”
Comedy group All India Bakchod has uploaded a photo album on Facebook, called #CricketThenAndNow.
All India Bakchod
The photo series highlights how much cricket has changed, ever since the game started getting commercialised.
All India Bakchod
It also makes some pretty believable predictions for the future, like Harsha Bhogle's estimated hairline.
All India Bakchod
And how branding is slowly taking over the post-match presentation ceremonies.
All India Bakchod
New York Knicks owner James Dolan says he believes sexual harassment claims against former general manager and coach Isiah Thomas were made up, despite a jury finding otherwise.
A jury in 2007 found Thomas and Madison Square Garden each liable for the claims filed by former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders, who was awarded over $11 million in damages.
In an interview on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel — which HBO claims is the first time Dolan has addressed the sexual harassment lawsuit — Dolan is asked if he believes Browne Sanders fabricated claims that Thomas called her a "bitch" and a "ho" and that he had made unwanted sexual advances when she was employed by the team.
“A bunch of it, I think she did [make it up]," Dolan said.
Dolan acknowledged that he "could have settled" the dispute and avoided a trial, but viewed that option as an admission of guilt.
“The fighter in me came out," he said. "I’m not gonna settle because that’s an admission of guilt, and we’re not guilty."
Browne Sanders was fired by Dolan after making her complaints known — the basis for damages in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Thomas and the team.
“I fired her because while she was working for me, she was coercing her own direct reports to come build her case to her lawyers,” Dolan told Gumbel.
A jury disagreed.
Browne Sanders, who has spoken about the lawsuit and her time with the Knicks in the past, declined to be interviewed by HBO.
Earlier this year, Dolan appointed Thomas as team president and partial owner (still pending WNBA approval) of the New York Liberty, which was met with public skepticism and disdain.
"I understood that there might be some people who were angry,” Dolan said before laughing as Gumbel read the headlines regarding his role with the Liberty. "It's terrible. What do you want me to say about it?
“We totally understood that, got it, accepted it — and not only accepted it, but respect it, their thoughts, their feelings around this issue."
But like Dolan, Thomas maintains Browne Sanders' claims were fabricated. He laughed in response when Gumbel read alleged quotes from Thomas.
"Never happened," Thomas said after each one. "Never happened."
The program begins with an uncharitable description of the WNBA and New York Liberty, saying their games might be "the last place you’d expect to find basketball royalty,” referring to Thomas.
A two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer, Thomas has a long history of imploding storied franchises as a member of their front offices, as is detailed during the program.
Late in the interview, Gumbel asked Dolan why — beyond the optics of hiring a man found guilty of sexual harassment to run a WNBA team — he would appoint Thomas, taking into consideration his career failures as a front office executive.
“He and I are close friends, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for his skill and abilities,” Dolan explained. “Isiah’s a guy who doesn’t believe in his limitations.”
Dolan called the Liberty and the WNBA a "never-ending pit of money," and said he was ready to "just give the keys back" to the league before hiring Thomas.
"I didn't think I would get a better person to do that job than him. And he would draw attention to the team," Dolan said.
For Thomas, who was also asked why he decided to come back to basketball, the reason was simple: “I’m addicted, I love it.”
The HBO Real Sports interview airs at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. A preview of the interview can be watched below:
CEO of the National Rugby League Dave Smith has quit after a three year stint filled with controversy.
Quinn Rooney / Getty Images
The Daily Telegraph reports that NRL Chairman John Grant will take over as interim CEO while the organisation looks for a replacement.
Much was made of Smith's appointment in 2013 when he replaced now-Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop. Previously a senior banker, many questioned Smith's knowledge of the game having no background in rugby league.
At a press conference held Tuesday morning, Smith said the time was right for him to move on.
"Rugby League has just finished another unbelievable year... Signing the biggest TV deal in NRL history, one of the greatest NRL Grand Finals in NRL History, and increasing club memberships."
"We have the right people with the right skills doing the right jobs. We are now financially robust."
"We are committed to connecting our fans closer to their teams."
"When I first came on board I said it would take me between three and five years to build a strong platform for rugby league... having assessed where we are at the end of our season and our financial year, I am comfortable that the game is in very, very good shape."
"We've started a new change, and it's now time for me to hand over to a new leader. The game moves forward with the opportunity to consolidate on the gains that we've made over the last three years."
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (right) talks with forward Lamar Odom in 2008.
Chris Carlson / Associated Press
Former NBA star Lamar Odom has begun walking again, his family said Tuesday, a day after he was discharged from a Las Vegas hospital where he'd been recovering since he was found unconscious in a brothel last week.
"Each day, Lamar is getting stronger and reaching significant milestones in his recovery," Odom's aunt, JaNean Mercer, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News on Monday. "We are committed to remaining by his side as a family for our champion, who we love immensely."
Reached by phone Monday evening, Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas confirmed Odom was no longer a patient at the medical facility.
Multiple outlets reported that the former Clippers and Lakers star, who was rushed to the hospital on Oct. 13, was being moved to a facility in Los Angeles to continue his recovery.
In a statement Tuesday, Mercer and the Odom family said Lamar had begun "a new chapter in his road to recovery."
"He continues to make miraculous progress, taking a few steps in Los Angeles," the family said. "We couldn't be more overjoyed! We realize Lamar's continued improvement will not be easy, however his unrelenting strength and faith in God will pull him through."
Chris Pizzello / AP
The statement also thanked medical staff at Sunrise Hospital for their "superb, round-the-clock care," as well as people across the country who had sent love and prayers.
Meanwhile, Odom's estranged wife, Khloé Kardashian, "hasn't moved" from his bedside, a source close to the situation told BuzzFeed News.
In a statement on her website Tuesday, she also thanked hospital staff and the public support.
"You can never be prepared for an experience like this, but without the outpouring of love and endless prayers that Lamar has received, and the strength I was given from my loved ones, it would have been difficult to endure," she said.
Odom's father, Joe, and two children, Destiny and Lamar Jr., are also reportedly by his side.
"Lamar has always been blessed with a tenacious, fighting spirit, overcoming insurmountable obstacles to achieve the impossible," Mercer said in the statement. "These past few days have been no different. He is defying the odds in his toughest battle to date with GOD's grace."
Witnesses at the Love Ranch South brothel, located in the rural town of Crystal, Nevada, told dispatchers that Odom had what appeared to be blood coming from his nose and mouth, along with “a white substance,” the local sheriff said.
A sign advertises the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada.
Chris Carlson / AP
Blood samples taken from Odom at the hospital are being analyzed by law enforcement to determine what exactly was in his system at the time, officials said.
Last Friday, Lamar was conscious and able to say "hi" to Khloé, but his condition remained guarded.
Odom married Kardashian in 2009 and became a regular presence on the family’s stable of reality TV shows. The pair has since filed for divorce; however, the papers are still pending in court.
1-800-HELP 1-800 HELP 1-800-HELP 1-800-HELP 1-800-HELP 1-800-HELP 1-800-HELP.
If you thought it was impossible to smuggle a full-sized TV into a school class, you were wrong.
And the basketball fan who takes a gigantic cardboard cutout of his own face to his team's games.
How are we supposed to keep a straight face if even he can't keep a straight face?
YouTube / Via youtube.com
This July, I was introduced to a Filipina girl in a ballet class in Brooklyn. She asked me, excitedly, if I’d heard the news about Stella Abrera. She was young, maybe 12 years old, so I smiled, lied, and said no. I wanted to give her the pleasure of giving me the good news, from one young Pinoy dancer to another.
A few weeks earlier, Stella Abrera had become the first Filipina-American to reach the rank of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. Her ascent was lauded by Asian-American and Filipino publications the world over, calling it “historic” and — considering almost two years of dealing with physical injuries — “nothing short of a miracle.” The 12-year-old girl I met was inspired by Stella’s promotion, that someone who looked like her could rise to the top rank at ABT, one of the most renowned ballet companies in the world.
When I tell Stella this story, she is gracious and humble. “But it makes me sad, in a way,” she says. “That means she feels different. I had the luxury of never feeling different.” Then she amends, “In the ballet world.”
Stella Abrera has been a member of American Ballet Theatre for almost 20 years.
Jade Young / Via Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre
We’re in a studio at American Ballet Theatre’s rehearsal space on a clear October morning. Stella sits on a yoga mat, at her spot by the barre. She’s in a Yumiko leotard and pink tights, naturally, and socks and a thermal vest to keep warm. Her long black hair is in a loose bun, bouncing with every nod of her head.
“It’s actually been a soul-searching time,” says Stella, “because I’m sure there are people who have felt — Filipino people — who have felt excluded or have felt different.” She pauses. Stella’s speech reflects her movement at the barre, with careful bends and well-thought stretches. “Just because I’ve never felt excluded or different, doesn’t mean that other people don’t.”
As Stella and I discuss her journey in the world of dance, other dancers begin to pour into the room for the morning’s ballet class. The mood is genial and the room fills with their chatter as they warm up. Everyone is absurdly beautiful, necks long and limbs taut, everything carved and sculpted to balletic perfection, most of them out of alabaster and marble.
Ballet, historically, has favored whiteness. It was popularized in the French court of Louis XIV, evolved in czarist Russia through imperial patronage, and, in America, demands a certain kind of access afforded mostly by the wealthy and white. This history results in the two major obstacles people of color face in the ballet world: economic access and a lack of diverse representation.
First, if you’re a dancer, pointe shoes, costumes, and private classes can be prohibitively expensive. Not to mention the cost of tickets to see the beautiful spectacle of ballet. And second, whether you’re in the audience or on stage, you’re bound to be surrounded only by white tutus and white sylphs and white swans. All that hard work only to be different, an outlier, an other.
So to hear Stella say “I’ve never felt singled out or excluded because of my skin color” is a curious surprise — though a pleasant one, nonetheless. “I don’t know if that’s because I grew up in very diverse cities,” she says. “I grew up in Los Angeles. I basically grew up in New York.” But ultimately, says Stella, “ABT is the place where I’ve actually felt the most accepted and at home.”
This is evident when the day’s ballet class begins. Stella’s confidence and self-assurance is palpable as she moves through the studio. You can always tell when a dancer loves a particular space: She’ll smile easily, she’ll effortlessly fly across the sprung floors, and she’ll go through class or rehearsal almost with eyes closed, as though she knows the room, the moves, the music like the backs of her hands en haut. For Stella, the space and the dance is hers. And she’s definitely earned it.
Stella Abrera in Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream at the American Ballet Theatre.
Gene Schiavone / Via Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre
Stella’s career path was paved with passion, perseverance, and the support of her family and friends. She started dancing at 5 years old after her older sister, who’d been taking modern dance classes at college, suggested the younger Abrera sister might try it out.
“We’d play leap frog and skipped around with flowers,” says Stella. “That’s how I got bit by the bug.” When she was 11, she tried on her first pair of pointe shoes. And the metaphorical shoe fit. “Ever since then,” she says, “I knew.”
So she began intensive training. Stella’s mother and father believed in Stella’s talent and passion. “My parents were so supportive,” says Stella. “They did all the driving and waiting through classes and rehearsals. They did it with me for sure all through high school.”
The Abrera family’s home base was in Los Angeles, but Stella’s father’s job would take them out of L.A. for two to three years at a time. They spent some time in San Diego, then three years in Australia. No matter where they moved, her ballet education was a top priority.
“Once I really decided that I wanted to pursue it as a career,” says Stella, “that’s when I had guidance from ballet teachers to help me get into the international dance scene, which brought me into ballet competitions.” When Stella was 16, Ross Stretton, then the assistant director of the American Ballet Theatre, was adjudicating one of her ballet examinations. He gave her the opportunity to audition at ABT, and the company’s Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie told her she was in.
Stella joined ABT’s corps de ballet in 1996 at the age of 17. She was then promoted to soloist in 2001. She shined in roles such as Gamzatti in La Bayadère, Myrta in Giselle, and Hermia in Frederick Ashton’s The Dream. But after Stella enjoyed a great ride in her twenties, one that she describes as like a rocket, a physical injury threatened to put her out of commission indefinitely.
Stella Abrera in Swan Lake at the American Ballet Theatre.
Rosalie O'Connor / Via Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre
“It started after a very tough rehearsal,” says Stella. “I noticed my calf was aching, and I said, whatever, just push through it.” However, she began to lose strength in her muscles and she grew weaker. “It eventually got so bad, the ache, that my leg just was not functioning properly.”
Despite seeing several doctors and physical therapists, a proper diagnosis eluded Stella for nine months. “No MRI could tell me anything,” she says. “No nerve connection tests, no ultrasound, nothing. All the doctors were shrugging their shoulders like, ‘Sorry, this is a mystery.’”
Stella describes it as the most frustrating time of her career. “At that point, I was around 29, and I had established myself,” she says, “both in the company and in the dance world. Things were looking up for me, and then I get slammed with this.” She takes a moment and corrects herself. “Not slammed, actually. This injury crept in.”
Still, she tried to keep her head up. “I kept thinking, It’s going to get better,” says Stella. “But eventually months passed, and I was no longer able to walk properly, much less dance. At my lowest point, the grannies on the street with their walkers were faster than me.”
Eventually, Stella and her doctors hypothesized a diagnosis: a slight herniated disk and an overstretched sciatic nerve. “But there was nothing to prove this diagnosis that we had come up with,” she says. “We went forward blindly with treatment.”Thankfully, it was a leap of faith that paid off. “I found that cortisone injections in my back, in my spine, were helpful,” says Stella. “But then comes a load of trying. Trying to come back, trying to regain strength, and build my legs back up to the level where I could dance again.”
She describes how a good friend helped her train every day, giving her a daily ballet class for four months: “I had to just completely go back to basics and change how I approached my technique.” Stella takes a deep breath, stretches her legs on her yoga mat, and says, “It really was an epic journey.”
Stella Abrera in Romeo and Juliet at the American Ballet Theatre.
Gene Schiavone / Via Courtesy of the American Ballet Theatre
The physical rehabilitation was one thing, but the mental and emotional recovery was wholly another. “Somehow I never — I should have, maybe — thought about what I wanted to do in case I couldn’t dance again,” says Stella. “But I was so stubborn and determined to come back. Sometimes I’d have bad days when I’d slip down a few rounds and have to claw myself back up to where I was before. I just kept my head down, plodding forward, one little baby step at a time.”
Adding to the emotional load from her injuries were difficult losses in Stella’s life. She and her husband, former ABT dancer Sascha Radetsky, lost Radetsky’s father to cancer. Shortly after, Stella’s ballet coach and ABT ballet mistress Georgina Parkinson also died of cancer. Additionally, Radetsky had the opportunity to dance at the Dutch National Ballet, so he was away from Stella for a year. Everything that’d happened led Stella to reassess her priorities.
“I was so determined to come back to any role,” says Stella. “It wasn’t about even returning back to my standing in the company before my injury. I just wanted to dance again. I realized what a gift it is to dance.”
For 18 months, through injury and loss, recovery and return to the stage, Stella relearned everything. She changed her approach to the way she worked and danced, and continues to be grateful for her revitalized career. To go from trailing behind women twice her age on the streets of New York to dancing an Odalisque in Le Corsaire helped Stella realize how far she had come.
“I find a lot more joy in my work now,” says Stella, “because I’m so thankful to have a body that does what I need it to do.”
Back at the studio at ABT, I’ve been observing Stella from the sidelines. In both the swift exercises and the adagio movements, she possesses a steadiness and certainty the younger dancers around her lack. Her experience is evident in each brush of the leg, her love for ballet shimmering in every crest of an arm. Stella dances for herself.
When the first half of class is over, the instructor asks the gentlemen in the room to clear the ballet barres off the dance floor. I almost instinctively rise from my seat to help just as Stella approaches me, pointe shoes in hand.
“I’m just gonna bang my shoes outside,” she says. Stella’s pointe shoes, conventionally pink, today are white. She slams silk and cement against the floor in the hallway, joining a chorus of her colleagues. This is a trick every ballerina knows: To live and dance in objects so rigidly perfect, you have to break them in. And that’s when the fun really begins.
Stella Abrera in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker at the American Ballet Theatre.
Rosalie O'Connor / Via Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre
Since her return to the stage in 2009, Stella’s taken every opportunity she can to dance. One of these opportunities came in 2013: an invitation to visit Manila and perform the titular role in Ballet Philippines’ staging of Giselle the following year.
“It was at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and I had a fantastic time,” she says. “The company and everyone I encountered were so warm and welcoming. It was the first time I’d been back to the Philippines in 15 years.”
Though she was born in Manila, Stella moved to the United States at an early age. Her parents kept close ties with their extended family who still live there, so they visited the country almost every summer in her youth. However, as her ballet career picked up, there were fewer chances to visit.
So this time, Stella wanted to make her visit count. A few months after Stella received the invitation to dance with Ballet Philippines, the central region of the country was ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan, the deadliest Philippine typhoon recorded in modern history.
“I knew my traveling there would be a good opportunity to raise some money for the people in the region that was hit hardest, and so I did some research,” says Stella. She founded Steps Forward for the Philippines, in partnership with Operation USA. Through crowdfunding, Steps Forward raised roughly $20,000, which went to the restoration of a school in the coastal town of Guiuan, hit first and hardest by the typhoon.
In 2014, between her performances of Giselle with Ballet Philippines, Stella took a weekend to fly to Guiuan and tour the region. Even though roughly a year had passed since Haiyan made landfall in the area, Stella marveled at the evidence of catastrophic loss.
“It was completely mind-blowing and life-changing,” she says, “to see the actual devastation, even when so much time has passed. But it was really inspiring to see how resilient the people were.”
Stella in Guiuan with the beneficiaries of Steps Forward for the Philippines.
Stella also visited the construction site of the school Steps Forward was helping to rebuild. She brought with her school supplies from Manila and gifted them to the children who’d be attending the school once it opened. “They just welcomed me with open arms and were just so thankful for what little I could do,” she says. “It was a very moving experience.”
Once she completed her “ethereal” interpretation of Giselle with Ballet Philippines, Stella gave another lauded performance in the role as a guest in the Australian Ballet’s production of Giselle in April 2015. After all these guest stints as Giselle outside the United States, the directors at American Ballet Theatre must have taken notice, because they gave Stella another chance of a lifetime at home court.
When ABT principal dancer Polina Semionova withdrew from the 2015 season due to an injury, ABT needed a new Giselle for their spring production. For the uninitiated, Giselle has the titular peasant maiden fall in love with the duplicitous Prince Albrecht. She dies upon learning of his deceit in the first act, then returns in the second act as a spirit to perform marvelous feats of dance, aided by the power of love. Who better to step in than the phoenix Stella?
Stella Abrera as Giselle in Giselle at the American Ballet Theatre.
MIRA / Via American Ballet Theatre
Virender Sehwag has been a mainstay in Indian cricket since the early 2000s.
Indranil Mukherjee / AFP / Getty Images
Today he announced his retirement in a moving letter.
Read it in full here.
Virender Sehwag / Via Twitter: @virendersehwag
Twitter user Soumyadip Choudhury has designed the perfect idea for a Google doodle saluting the cricketer's career.
@soumyadip / Via Twitter: @soumyadip
Your move, Google.
Are you more Peter Schmeichel or Massimo Taibi?
Nothing beats a derby day.
Her team won the game, but Jodie Farnetti won at life.
Her dad, Gregg Farnetti, is the team's longtime head football coach, and Jodie grew up going to practice with him.
"Everyday I had to stay for football practice and I just kicked and I just kicked because I loved it, it was awesome to do something different," the teen told WIAT.
A civilized, literary beef for the ages.
The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays are engaged in a vicious death match also known as the American League Championship Series. The bad blood is so fierce that the Kansas City Public Library broke out some book spine poetry to talk smack.
That reads as: "Canada. Sorry You Lost. What Bluebirds Do."
This is war, people.
NBC / Via veryusefulgifs.tumblr.com
And now the Toronto Public Library has fired back.
"Warning. Kansas City. It Ain't Over Till It's Over."
These two better calm down before somebody gets a stern talking to about not returning those books to the correct shelves.
Sony Pictures / Via slightly-austin-tatious.tumblr.com
“You held her hand and helped her get up when she fell down.”
"I wish I could skateboard," said 6-year-old Peyton recently. But she thought it was just for boys. "We had a long talk about how there are no such thing as 'Boy things' and 'Girl things,' there are just things," says her mother Jeanean Thomas.
Thomas gave Peyton her old skateboard and took her to the local skate park in Cambridge, Ontario. When they arrived, they saw a group of teenage boys skating, smoking, and swearing.
"Mom, it’s full of older boys," Peyton said.
Thomas told her that didn't matter, and Peyton began to skate. Soon, one of the older boys came over to Peyton.
"I immediately prepared to deliver my 'She’s allowed to use this park just as much as you guys' speech," Thomas wrote in a letter to the boy posted on Twitter after the encounter. Instead, the boy told Peyton, "Your feet are wrong. Can I help you?"
The encounter inspired Thomas to write a thank-you letter to the boy.
"You proceeded to spend almost an hour with my daughter showing her how to balance and steer, and she listened to you – a feat not attained by most adults!" she wrote.
"I want you to know that I am proud that you are part of my community, and I want to thank you for being kind to my daughter, even though your friends made fun of you for it."
"She left the skate park with a sense of pride and with the confidence that she can do anything, because of you."
"When we were leaving the park I said, 'That was really nice of that boy to help you like he did.' She said 'Yeah,' and then turned around and ran back to him and said 'Thank you!' and smiled," Thomas told BuzzFeed Canada.
She said Peyton now skateboards all the time.
"If it interests you, you can do it," she said. "Your gender doesn't matter, how you treat others is what matters."