Former Ironwood Ridge basketball and track standout Piper Mali went on to play basketball for Pima and she signed her letter of intent to play for Fisher College in Boston on Thursday.
“So incredibly proud of my Piper for believing in herself and her abilities, staying strong and fighting back,” her mother Keeley Mali said.
“She never gave up!”
Mali struggled with a congenital foot condition that would have sidelined a lot of other athletes.
“We knew she struggled with foot pain for years but until surgery was finally scheduled in May 2017, we really had no concept of the pain caused by her accessory navicular bone – jokingly classified as a Stage 4 by her surgeon who said he had never seen one this size before. He was amazed by her motivation and athleticism while living with this painful extra bone. Most of his patients are barely walking, let alone running and playing basketball”
Hampered by her painful condition, Mali played in 24 games for Pima this season.
“I want to give her due credit for continuing to fight through painful rehab recovery, staying positive and never giving up. She’s always been a strong person but she really proved this over the last few years. I’m just so proud of her,” Keeley Mali added.
Despite her condition, Mali was also part of back-to-back state runner-up 4×400 relay teams at Ironwood Ridge.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com