EAST LANSING, Mich. — Shortly after Ohio State’s victory over Rutgers on Feb. 8, JaQuan Lyle received a phone call nobody wants. Lyle was informed his 19-year-old sister Jala was in a coma after giving birth.
Lyle, the Buckeyes’ sophomore point guard, left school and the basketball team early the following morning to return to his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, to be with his sister and the rest of his family. He stayed there over the weekend and missed Ohio State’s game Saturday at Maryland.
With his sister's status improving each day, Lyle returned to Columbus on Monday afternoon. And on Tuesday, ahead of the Buckeyes' game at Michigan State, Lyle received another phone call.
This one was much better than the one he got a week ago.
“She called me today and whenever I heard her voice I had the biggest smile on my face,” Lyle said following Ohio State’s 74-66 loss to the Spartans. “That made my day and I’m just happy she’s doing good.”
Lyle said Tuesday was the first time his sister was able to communicate.
“She’s getting better every day,” Lyle said. “She stood up today for the first time, she’s back walking. She’s got the ventilator out of her mouth and she’s back talking and stuff. She’s just taking it day by day and getting better every day.”
Welcome news, for sure.
But the last week was far from easy on Ohio State’s sophomore point guard.
“It was definitely hard. Seeing my sister like that, that was probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lyle said. “But also, leaving my brothers during a critical part of the season. They understood, family first, but these guys are also my family.”
“It was real tough when I went home,” he continued. “I went in the room probably twice and I came out crying both times because just seeing my sister like that, it tore me up.”
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said when Lyle returned to the team Monday, however, he seemed like his normal self despite the very trying week.
“He was good. He was fine," Matta said. "I think he was actually kind of glad to be back and around the guys.”
Lyle scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and recorded five assists in the Buckeyes' loss to the Spartans. But in situations like this, the basketball side of things don't seem to matter much.
Lyle said he received a ton of support from teammates, coaches and fans.
“Everybody was behind me. Everybody respected my decision to go home and everybody reached out individually," Lyle said. "Obviously, Buckeye Nation showed a lot of love on social media and I appreciate everybody, the whole fan base, family, friends and everybody that reached out. I just want to say I appreciate that.”
The phone call Tuesday from his sister was the best news Lyle received all week. Perhaps more will be coming in the near future.
“She should be able to come home soon," Lyle said. I’m sure my mom called me like 50 million times tonight so I’m gonna have to call her back.”