IU star Turner to be keynote speaker
at Soil-Water meeting
The author and motivational speaker has inspiring story
(January 2016) – Landon Turner was just like any other 21-year-old college basketball player until an automobile accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. His recovery and determination to succeed at life make him a sought-after motivational speaker.
Since that fateful day in 1981, Turner has seen his life do a 180. Before the accident, he starred on the 1981 Indiana University squad that won the NCAA Championship. During the tournament, Landon became a powerhouse.
Landon Turner’s basketball career was ended in 1981 by a car wreck that left him paralyzed.
He had previously spent a lot of time in “Coach Bobby Knight’s Dog House,” but by this time had worked his way back into the starting lineup. His defining moment was when the Hoosiers won the 1981 NCAA Championship in Philadelphia, beating out rival North Carolina.
Turner was named MVP in the semi-final game, in which he was a leading scorer and second in rebounds. He had made the All-Tournament Team when he was a junior, along with teammates Isiah Thomas and Jim Thomas. At six feet, 10 inches and 235 pounds, he averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game during the regular season.
Turner is scheduled to appear in Madison, Ind., on Feb. 3 to retell his life story as the keynote speaker at the Jefferson County Soil & Water Conservation District’s Annual Meeting, set for 6 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fair-grounds Community Building, 3767 W. St. Rd. 256. The event is open to the public. Crazy Ladies Catering, LLC will provide the meal.
Turner had chosen Indiana University over 300 other colleges that tried desperately to recruit him. Indiana University won its first and only National Invitation Tournament championship in 1979, with Turner being the second-leading scorer.
But all this changed at 8:45 a.m. on July 25, 1981, when Turner was in a one-car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down when he lost control of the car he was driving. He and three friends were on their way to Kings Island, north of Cincinnati. Turner had to have an emergency tracheotomy and spent five months in the hospital and many more in therapy.
• Tickets for the program are $10 per person. To reserve, contact Kayla Hubbard at (812) 265-7609 or Kayla.HubbArd@jeffersoncounty.in.gov.
He returned to the Indiana University campus in fall 1982 and graduated in May 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. Although he would never play in the NBA, Red Auerback of the Boston Celtics selected him in the 1982 NBA Draft as a tribute to his hard work and contribution to the game. Knight also played a role in his draft selection.
“It was a complete surprise,” Turner has been quoted as saying. “It was close to my heart when they drafted me.”
Auerback has been quoted as saying about the draft, “We would have been honored to have him be a part of the Boston Celtics and felt this is one way to show how we felt about him.”
After graduating, Turner began to tell his story, which was the beginning of his public speaking career. In 1989 he was awarded the “Most Courageous Award” by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and The Sagamore of the Wabash Award by then-Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, the highest honor bestowed in the State of Indiana. In 1992 the Hoosier Minority Chamber of Commerce honored him as a “Living Legend in Black.”
“Landon Turner is actually a landowner in Jefferson County,” said Kayla Hubbard, District Coordinator for the Jefferson County Soil & Water District. He owns a farm that he uses for hunting, and a board member who knows Turner suggested him as a speaker for the program.
“He has such a great story to tell and, of course, who wouldn’t want to hear from an NCAA Champion and player of Bob Knight?” she said. “He will be speaking on how to maintain a positive attitude, overcome adversity and living an abundant, successful life.” Turner will have copies of his 2005 book, “Landon Turner’s Tales From The 1980-81 Indiana Hoosiers,” available for sale and to sign.
Basketball remains an important part of Turner’s life. Seven years after his accident, he returned to the basketball court and played for the Indiana Pacers wheelchair basketball team, coached in the Nike League and was assistant coach for the Southport High School freshmen team. He has won many awards for his abilities.
He has said of a previous speaking engagement, “I hope people come away from the talk knowing that adversity will come in their life but a winning attitude and self-love will allow them to succeed. I don’t say ‘disability,’ though. People just have different ‘abilities.’ ”
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