Green continues to make a difference

by Steve Tucker

Former Roosevelt High School and Notre Dame basketball star Danielle Green is on the mend and hopes to return to Chicago for good in December.p. Green is undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington after her left hand and part of her arm blown off were blown off. She was hit by a projectile on the roof of a Baghdad police station in May while serving in Iraq as part of the 571st MP Company, which is based in Fort Lewis, Wash.p. Two weeks ago, she came into town on a two-day pass. She made me promise not to tell anyone because she wanted to see her grandmother and get in and out of town without a media circus.p. Her personal belongings were shipped here and arrived from Fort Lewis. I helped arrange a meeting between Green and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan as Green looked toward her future, which she hopes will include a job in the city’s schools.p. "She is an extraordinary young woman who I would love to have work with me,‘’ Duncan said. "She has so much to offer. I can’t think of a better role model. Danielle is a legitimate hero who is humble. She is exactly the type of person I’d want to join my team once she is done with rehab.p. "She really moved me. I got all emotional talking to her. I was honored to meet her and to hear not only her story about what happened [in Iraq], but her personal story prior to that. What a positive person she was for what she overcame. The word inspiring doesn’t do her justice.‘’p. Duncan is keeping in touch with Green by e-mail while she continues her rehabilitation in the nation’s capital.p. In late July, Green visited American University on a two-day pass to speak to members of the Illinois Hustle AAU girls basketball team playing in the U.S. Junior Nationals.p. "The reality is, I could have come home in a box instead of a [stretcher],‘’ the 27-year-old Green told the high-schoolers. "God chose not to end my life on a rooftop in Baghdad. Hopefully, I have many, many good years with a lot of good to give for others and for myself.’‘p. Green, who married former Washington High School coach Willie Byrd in Las Vegas while on leave in the spring, told the players that an Army colleague found her left hand in the sand and recovered her wedding rings for her.p. "Everyone on the team was speechless,’’ Lane Tech senior Jamie Majerowicz said. "It made me think about how lucky I am to be able to play basketball, volleyball and other sports. I’d be devastated if I couldn’t. [Green] was very inspiring and we all learned not to take things for granted.‘’p. A 1995 high school graduate, Green struck a chord with the teenagers.p. "She was such a positive role model for all of us,’’ Resurrection senior Kristi Cirone said. "She is so brave and she showed us that we can do anything we put our minds to and never to give up. It was really interesting to get to meet such a great person.‘’p. "She was really inspirational,’’ Fenwick senior Brittanny Johnson said. "She got me thinking about how to take a negative and turn it around.‘’p. Byrd was at her side as members of the basketball community, including Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw and Rutgers coach Vivian Stringer, greeted her in the gym.p. "She was amazing,’’ Sandburg senior Melinda Queen said. "It took a lot of courage to go to Iraq and fight for our country. She told us her story, and a lesson in it was that she wasn’t scared and was calm. She just thought about surviving. She was cool.p. "It totally changed my perspective on life to, ’Don’t waste it and go after goals and achieve them.’’’p. Mary Thompson, who runs the Nike Girls All-American Camp in St. Louis, tried to get Green to visit in July, but the Army wouldn’t allow Green to fly at that time.p. "Really, I’m doing great,‘’ Green said. "I’ve been fitted with three or four prosthetics. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.’’p.

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