Grand Canyon’s Tyon Grant-Foster Is Thriving Despite A Pair Of Near-death Experiences

PHOENIX: The darkest path often presents as the easiest one, a facade funneling into a trap.

Tyon Grant-Foster saw the lurking danger behind the illusion but refused to detour no matter what life threw in his way.

As a child surrounded by a world of gangs, drugs and crime, he chose the light of a basketball court. When two near-death experiences threatened to take away the game he loved most, Grant-Foster leaned into his faith, the winding path landing him in a starring role at Grand Canyon University.

“You never question God’s path he has for you because everyone’s path is different,” Grant-Foster said. “So just because my path is hard and other people it isn’t doesn’t mean that it’s less important or mean that you give up. I had hard times, but it’s what makes me who I am today.”

Grant-Foster’s impact has been massive in his short time at Grand Canyon.

The 6-foot-7 senior guard’s 20.9 points per game rank 13th nationally and he’s second on the team with 6.0 rebounds. With Grant-Foster leading the way, the Antelopes beat then-No. 25 San Diego State on Dec. 5 for the program’s first win over a ranked opponent and, at 10-1, they are off to their best start in 28 years.

“He’s a very gifted basketball player and has raised the level of our team, given us an elite scoring option,” Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew said. “The thing that we have really enjoyed is just his appreciation for the game and just the joy he brings just in life in general.”

Grant-Foster grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, where the street life could have overtaken him. He and his three younger brothers, with the guidance of their parents, steered around the temptations to thumping of a basketball.

The long, athletic guard had game from an early age. He starred at Schlagle High School and was the No. 2 junior college transfer recruit after a season at Indian Hills Community College, according to the 247 Sports composite.

Blueblood Kansas and Hall of Fame coach Bill Self came calling, offering a potential step up in Grant-Foster’s trajectory. He instead played a limited role on a talented roster and opted to enter the transfer portal.

Grant-Foster ended up at DePaul, ready to start a new chapter of his basketball life.

Real life interrupted to rewrite the narrative.

Grant-Foster hit a last-second 3-pointer before halftime of his first game and joyfully ran off the court. Joy turned to terror when Grant-Foster collapsed in the Blue Demons’ locker room.

Foaming at the mouth, he had to be resuscitated and was revived three more times on the way to the hospital.

Grant-Foster spent the next 10 days in the hospital undergoing a series of tests, with no clear-cut diagnosis, a defibrillator inserted in his chest.

As the months went by, Grant-Foster began to think the collapse was an anomaly. He felt fine and decided to play a pickup game back at home, former Kansas and NBA guard Christian Braun among the players at the community center gym.

Grant-Foster collapsed again, putting his basketball future in doubt.

The easy path would have been to give up, to succumb to tough streets that had snuffed out many dreams long before his.

Relying on family, friends and faith, Grant-Foster chose to forge ahead. Though believing he would play again, Grant-Foster began looking at a life without playing basketball, working as a referee while looking into a job as a graduate assistant at DePaul.

“He had his down days, but the thing with Tyon is you would never really know,” said Reese Holliday, Grant-Foster’s trainer, mentor and friend. “He handled it better than most people would. He was upbeat, he was positive most of the time and had a good outlook on things.”

Grant-Foster’s perseverance paid off 16 months later, when his doctor gave the good news: He was cleared to play again.

Grant-Foster entered the transfer portal but found most schools were reluctant to sign someone with a heart condition who hadn’t played in two years.

The one school that was interested turned out to be the perfect landing spot.

Not only was Grand Canyon a program on the rise — two NCAA Tournament appearances in three years — it was a Christian school in a city where Grant-Foster’s cousin, Ish Wainright, was playing for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns at the time.

The Antelopes also had a coach who could relate to Grant-Foster’s persistence.

Drew had a heart condition as a child and never let it slow him down, hitting one of the most memorable shots in NCAA Tournament history for Valparaiso in 1998 before playing six NBA seasons.

“When you when your life is so fragile as it was in those moments for him, I think it does make you evaluate life more differently,” Drew said.

The newfound perspective came pouring out of Grant-Foster during his first game with Grand Canyon.

Facing Southeast Missouri State in front of Grand Canyon’s rowdy “Havocs” student section, Grant-Foster showed no signs of jitters, scoring 30 points in his first game in two years.

“It was a surreal feeling to be back out there doing what I love,” Grant-Foster said.

Grant-Foster’s path was more difficult than most. He never deviated no matter what happened and again has found the light.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Associated Press)

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