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SMITHFIELD — Returning to the game he loves in the 2019 North Carolina Wiffle Ball Tournament has been a blessing for Jordan Adams.
“Every day I’m blessed,” Adams said. “I’m blessed to be here. Don’t take every day for granted, that’s for sure. Every day when I wake up, I count my blessings.”
With a high leg kick from the plate that exposes his neon green socks and points his Under Armour cleats toward the sky, the Benson resident who wears tinted-blue sunglasses looks happy and healthy.
Just looking at him, he fits in among the other 50 or so participants dressed in athletic apparel of the weekend.
But Adams has been through much more than meets the eye. Merely six months ago, getting to run around the bases with his friends again this year seemed out of the question. Getting back to normal life even felt far-fetched.
Adams, who began playing in the Smithfield-based tournament in 2011, was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a rare liver disease in 2016.
The disease, which is diagnosed in one out of every 100,000 people, sets in slowly in patients and eventually clogs the bile ducts in the organ, leading to liver failure.
After dealing with health issues, Adams still continued to play in the annual wiffle ball tournament after his diagnosis, and saw success too. In 2017, he won his second tournament title with Uncensored, taking home MVP honors after leading a team that outscored its opponents 37-4 in five games.
In 2018, Adams returned to Uncensored and took the team to the championship game, where the Rays, a collection of North Johnston High alumni, kept them from back-to-back first place finishes.
But the symptoms of his disease — pain in the abdomen, fever, enlarged liver and weight loss — caught up with him. By November, a few months after playing in 2018, Adams health took a turn for the worst.
Adams liver was failing him. After being admitted to Duke Hospital, it was communicated to him that there was really only one treatment — a liver transplant, a costly procedure which depends on the luck of a national waiting list and a donor who is a match.
Because PSC is so rare, medical professionals still don’t know much about the disease, and couldn’t offer much help to Adams, who was near-death.
“Honestly, at one point they didn’t even think I was going to make it,” Adams said. “So I’m blessed to be here today.”
Adams was lucky to receive a liver transplant on New Year’s Day 2019. He wasn’t given the name of his donor, but he hopes to find out soon after submitting the paperwork to receive that information from the family.
“It’s up to the family now if they want to release it,” Adams said. “I would love to know everything about them.”
Eventually, the gift of that donor gave Adams back his life. But it took a long road to get there. Shortly after getting out of surgery, Adams couldn’t walk and had to get around in a wheelchair.
Over time, his conditions started to improve. Eventually, he was healthy enough to sign up along with him teammates.
“God worked a miracle,” Adams’ teammate Joey Creech said.
With Adams back to one of his favorite activities of the year, he became an inspiration for the entire tournament.
On a championship roster along with Creech, of Kenly, and Spencer Griswold and Ryan Barefoot of Benson, Adams was as important as anyone.
Playing in front of his parents, wife, brothers and sister-in-law, he had numerous crucial hits that led to eventual MVP honors for the second time.
After sweeping through Saturday play with two dominant wins over the Astros and Clique, Uncensored met its match in a battle of undefeated teams against Super Smash Bros at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Adams came up to the plate in the bottom of the final inning with a runner in scoring position and the game tied 1-1. Swinging hard, he smashed a walk-off blast over the fence of the Smithfield Community Park to advance to the championship game.
Shortly after, a 7-5 victory for Uncensored and Adams brought the tournament to a close. Adams walked away from the tournament with three trophies on the weekend, after also being named to the most recent all-decade team. But he started play Saturday just happy to be alive, and surrounded by friends and family.
“I didn’t even think I was going to be alive, and six months ago after the transplant I couldn’t even walk on my own,” Adams said. “I was having to get around in a wheelchair, so to be here six months later, running, doing everything like normal is just amazing. I’m blessed.”