Eight years after Bryant Notree's basketball career was cut short due to a
Notree, who was a Tribune second-team All-State selection in 1994 as a Wolverines senior, lives in Dallas with his wife and two sons. He works as a personal trainer and nutritional consultant, a career his father, Clarence Notree, a former
"I was depressed for a couple of years," Notree said. "But I was able to get back up and find my niche."
Notree's niche on the court started at Simeon, where the 6-foot-4 guard/forward scored more than 1,000 career points and averaged 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists during his senior season when the Wolverines advanced to the Public League quarterfinals. As a teenager, he struggled to comprehend coach Bob Hambric's tough methods.
"I always used to come back to my father and say, 'What is the deal with Hambric?'" Notree said. "He said, 'Hambric is a disciplinarian, and that's what you need.'
"I could never understand it. I could have a great game, and he would find every little bitty flaw I had. I didn't know in the long run this is what you need to be successful. Never be content …"
Notree played three seasons for Illinois before transferring to UIC. After that he played in the IBL and Europe and made training camps for the Grizzlies and Nuggets before a routine medical checkup in Europe changed his career.
Notree was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which thickened heart muscle makes it difficult for it to pump blood and can result in sudden death among athletes.
He continued playing for a couple of years, landing with the Dakota Wizards in the CBA, but eventually decided to stop playing for his family.
"I felt like he may have been able to play longer," his father said. "He had a child and a wife at home, and he didn't want to chance it. … But he felt like there was a lot left out there if this hadn't come up."
"It was kind of hard to let go, but I knew what was more important, and that was to be here for my family," Notree said.
In his position as a trainer who works with health product company AdvoCare, he said he has more time for his family, which includes 14-year-old son Bryce, a budding football and basketball player.
Notree has coached Bryce in basketball and said he's open to coaching again. If he does, he expects he'll be just like Hambric. For now, he enjoys watching his son's games, though he sometimes finds it difficult to sit quietly.
"I think it's a disease," he joked of blurting out instructions from the stands. "When you've been around the game so much, it's hard to just sit and watch. I can see everything."
He still stays active and plays basketball recreationally with his condition, which he said doesn't require medication. He says fitness saved his life, and he wants to help make that true for others too.
"I'm trying to change people's lifestyles," Notree said, "because it's personal with me."