Wake Forest men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes said his wife is regaining movement on her left side following a stroke last month and he plans to continue with his coaching duties entering preseason practices.
Johnetta Forbes, 58, suffered the stroke Aug. 8 and is receiving treatment at the Shepherd Center, a neuro-rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. Steve Forbes said Monday she didn’t suffer memory damage, is making “incremental” progress and is determined to be able to walk when she is scheduled to leave the facility Sept. 22.
With her progress so far, Forbes is ready to be a caregiving husband and power-conference basketball coach.
“As far as stepping away, no — first of all, I don’t think that’s what my wife would want,” Forbes said in a Zoom call with reporters. “I don’t think that would help her recover. I think she needs me to be doing what I’m doing. So we just had to work it out, a plan.”
Forbes said Johnetta was in Destin, Florida, with their three children — the youngest is college age — when she had the stroke. He was in Kuwait with Operation Hardwood, a basketball outreach program that includes coaching military service members.
Their children quickly took Johnetta to an area hospital while Forbes began a Kuwait-to-Germany-to-United States journey home.
“She goes down [to Destin] a lot by herself,” Forbes said. “And I have a bad feeling that if she’d have been by herself, she might’ve just went back to bed.”
Forbes, who has been posting updates and notes of encouragement during his wife’s recovery on X, formerly Twitter, said she is speaking slower as she enunciates words and is slowly regaining movement. That includes being able to wrap her left hand around a cup and lift her left leg.
WE will get through this together; inch by inch, step by step, day by day. Keep stacking those small victories, they lead to BIG victories. #FamilyOn3 pic.twitter.com/YUr1chwNT8
— Steve Forbes (@ForbesWakeHoops) August 15, 2023
In the meantime, he said he has been measuring the doorway widths and bed heights at home to prepare for potential accommodations.
“She’s bound and determined to walk home,” Forbes said. “Will she? I hope. But if not, she’ll have a wheelchair.”
As for his Demon Deacons, Forbes said he’ll split his time between Atlanta during the week and Friday-to-Monday campus sessions in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for limited team workouts. The couple lives near campus, so he can meet with players there as needed while being with her.
The team officially starts practice Sept. 25 and opens Nov. 6 against Elon.
“It has never really crossed my mind,” Forbes said of taking a leave of absence. “Now, that’s after seeing her progress, right? Had she not, then maybe we’d be having a different conversation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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