Neve had to be creative since exercises that loaded the spine — lunges and squats, for instance — were out. He spent months creating a system of muscular stability that would help support Jacobsen's spine and improve his core strength.
Remarkably, Jacobsen made the ninth-grade basketball team in the fall, about seven months after the surgery. He earned a starting job on the Woods Cross varsity team as a junior, 21/2 years after the surgery.
Says Neve, "I told him, don't be a tough guy; you need to tell me what's going on. He's very, very driven. So I'm not surprised he's done as well as he has. I am surprised at the things he has taken in stride."
Neve is referring to the ridicule that Jacobsen has been subjected to at times. During one game last season opposing fans called him "Quasimodo." Eric was angry and ready to defend his son, but, according to Neve, Mikey defused the situation. "It didn't even faze him," says Neve. "He said, 'Hey, Dad, that's part of the game.' "
Jacobsen is a steady performer for Woods Cross. Last week he scored 11 points to lead the Wildcats past Box Elder, improving the team's record to 6-2. "He's tough as nails," says Woods Cross coach Kasey Walkenhurst. "He's definitely a big key to our team."
Says Jacobsen, "My personal trainer and doctor did an amazing job. There have been only a couple of times where I felt pain."
"What really pleases me," says Crandall, "is that he hasn't mentally allowed his surgery to be a hindrance. Physically, it should not impact him, but mentally, if a kid is not in a good environment and they get the idea they're sick or defective or crippled or incapable of proceeding full speed into life, then he's given himself an out. This speaks to his inner strength and his family's support."
For his part, Crandall lives for such moments as Jacobsen's return to competitive sports. "Most days I would rather do what I do than golf," he says. "It is tremendously gratifying. For me there is nothing better than taking a deformed child or adult and being able to perform a corrective procedure that changes their life for the better. And then to walk into the waiting room and get hugs and handshakes and tears — that's better than golf."