High School Sports

A wheelchair into his 20s? Doctors thought so, but now he’s starting in the playoffs.

Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best
Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best Courtesy

Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best dreamed of playing baseball at a very young age.

But those dreams seemed far-fetched when, in sixth grade, doctors found a staph infection in his hip joint.

Best was all of 12 years old when his immediate future featured surgeries on his hip, legs and arm after the infection spread.

Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best had a hip replacement two years ago. Courtesy

“I thought I was done playing baseball,” Best said. “I couldn’t even walk.

“My first surgery was to remove the staph infection, but the doctors wanted to preserve the hip because they didn’t want to do a hip replacement on a 12-year-old.”

In place of a hip replacement, though, was the prospects of being in a wheelchair into his 20s.

Yeah, that wasn’t going to fly with Best.

Through the support from the staff at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Best was able to work his way back onto a baseball diamond where he played Little League. He would also go on to play football, basketball and baseball in middle school and then select baseball and freshman football.

Quite the turnaround.

Following his sophomore season, Best decided on a new hip.

“Over time the hip started to deteriorate and I was in a lot of pain that I couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.

Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best Jerry Murad, Jr. Courtesy

Best had to learn how to walk and run again, but he picked it up quickly. After four months, he was back to normal. Then the day came when doctors cleared him and he could return to the game he loved.

“My parents were in tears. We all thought I’d never play again,” Best said.

Best played on the junior varsity team last season and then won the starting job at first base this year for the District 6-5A champions. The Yellow Jackets are in the second round of the playoffs after sweeping Granbury in bi-district.

“Brennan use to go out on the field and just fight through the pain,” senior Will Lauritzen said. “His first day back after surgery, he was hitting liners in the cages. I don’t know how he was doing it.”

“I won’t say it’s surprising, but inspiring,” head coach Steve Jimenez added. “When I first got here, he was limping around and trying to play a little and I just thought, this isn’t going to work. But he decided on the surgery and now it’s been an excellent road back.”

Best won the job at first over three others. He finished off the regular season hitting nearly .400 and is among the team leaders in doubles and total hits.

“Brennan played on JV and was another kid getting some at-bats,” said Jimenez, who has been with Fort Worth ISD for 29 years. “He stepped in this season and won the starting job, and it’s been above and beyond all expectations.

Arlington Heights senior Brennan Best Jerry Murad, Jr. Courtesy

“Only thing that comes close is I had a pitcher at Western Hills who had surgery on his hand. He pitched in a few scrimmages after, but it never quite healed and didn’t pitch as a senior. But nothing like this.”

Best went 1-for-3 as the Yellow Jackets beat Granbury, 2-1, in Game 1. His liner to center drove in two runs to give Heights a 2-1 lead in the third inning during its 5-3 victory in Game 2.

He’ll look to continue to swing a hot bat when Heights takes on Lake Dallas in a three-game series at Brewer beginning on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

“My first thought was to quit. I didn’t want to play anymore,” Best said. “But I powered through, stayed positive and it turned out perfect.”

The Steers defeated Carter-Riverside 5-3 on April 16 to clinch the program's first playoff berth since 1959. Video Credit NSHS baseball

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.