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Purdue Coach’s Daughter Back in Stands

March 15, 1996

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Patricia Keady said it was a miracle, and she wasn’t talking about anything like a buzzer-beater to win a national title.

Mrs. Keady, wife of Purdue coach Gene Keady, was referring to the fact that for the first time in months, she was able to watch a college basketball game with her daughter, Lisa Sands, who suffered a fall Jan. 10 at her New Jersey home and slipped into a coma.

Sands, 30, underwent brain surgery after the accident and was in a coma for three weeks. One day after her injury, Keady’s father, Lloyd, died in California.

``It’s been a tough year for us, but my dad never talks about the negative,″ Sands said. ``It’s always the positive with him.″

On Thursday night, Sands sat with her mother _ both wearing golden jackets to display their support for Purdue _ as cheered for the top-seeded Boilermakers against Western Carolina.

``As it always is, it’s very special to be here with my father,″ Sands said from her seat about 10 rows behind the Purdue bench.

Mrs. Keady said within the past month, Sands has re-learned how to walk, talk and read.

``She had to learn everything from top to bottom all over again,″ Mrs. Keady said. ``She’s walking with help, but she still can’t use a knife and fork.″

Sands’ accident galvanized the team. Purdue went 6-2 in January during the height of the crisis and finished with wins in 12 of its final 13 games to claim the school’s third straight Big Ten title.

But the real prize for coach Keady in the NCAA tournament was just being able to have a family reunion.

``She is more important to him than winning any ball game,″ Mrs. Keady said. ``He wants to win, but this has been a miracle. It’s so much more important.″

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