The date is a coincidence, but it’s such a perfect coincidence that Antone Moore thinks maybe something subconscious was at work.

“The crazy part about it is, I didn’t set it up like that,” Moore said in a phone interview. He was in Bowling Green, Ohio, planning his trip to Maine. “My cousin pointed out the date, and I was like, wait a minute…”

On Monday, Moore, known by the nickname “Juice” when he starred for the University of Maine at Augusta men’s basketball team in the early 2000s, will be back in Augusta, where he’ll speak at the Buker Community Center from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Monday is Sept. 26. It’s also the fourth anniversary of the stroke that changed Moore’s life.

Moore woke up that day with an excruciating headache, but went with a friend to Kennebec Valley YMCA in Augusta to workout. Moore worked out on the elliptical machine, but something didn’t feel right. He still had that headache.

“You know when you’re working out, you perspire? I wasn’t sweating at all,” Moore said.

Dizzy, Moore stopped working out and was helped to the gymnasium. He couldn’t move.

“I was saying, please stop, because the pain was so overbearing,” Moore, now 40, said. “It was like my head was slamming into concrete.”

Moore was having a stroke. He was taken via ambulance first to MaineGeneral in Augusta, then to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he went into a coma and was given a 50/50 shot at survival. Moore was in a coma for 10 days.

“I didn’t know that I was out that long,” he said.

When he played basketball at UMA, Moore was one of the top players in the nation. In 2002, the Chicago native helped the Moose enjoy one of the most successful seasons in program history, going 25-7 and placing fourth in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national tournament. Moore led the USCAA in scoring and was named to the USCAA Division II all-America team. He followed his collegiate career playing professional basketball for minor league teams across the continent. Moore played for teams like the New Jersey Squires and Lake County Lakers. He was a Mexico Admiral and a Windy City Monarch. Moore played for the Harlem Ambassadors.

All the time he played basketball, Moore had no idea that his family history was going to cause his body to betray him, and leave him fighting for his life.

Moore’s stroke was caused by high blood pressure, a trait he had no idea ran in his family. While he went through rehab, Moore learned his stroke could have been prevented. Rather than become bitter, he resolved to educate others. He’s worked as a peer navigator with other stroke survivors.

“It always good for somebody who’s been through it to speak on it,” Moore said. “I’m spreading the message. This is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Moore wrote a book, “A Walking Testimony,” with his cousin, Damien Womack, about his experiences in life and recovering from the stroke. Even now, years later and with rehab, Moore still struggles some. He can walk and talk, but throughout a conversation, he’ll often pause, searching for the word he knows is on the tip of his tongue.

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I want to motivate people,” More said, pausing to make sure what he says is what he means. “I want people to learn from my mistakes.”

Over the last few months, Moore has spoke around the country. Moore has a slideshow he plans to show when he speaks at the Buker Community Center. He also plans to speak to athletes at UMA sometime this week. Moore knows he could have died on that day four years ago. This is a second chance for Juice, and he plans to make the most of it. He’s eager to come back to Augusta. While he lives in Ohio now, Moore still considers Augusta a home.

“It has really been a great experience for me,” Moore said. “This is getting me excited. I’m going to be better today than yesterday. I have to be.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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