Cleveland already has a place in Jeff Green's heart, says the city has given him 'new life'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio - Jeff Green is new to the Cavaliers this season, but he's no stranger to the city of Cleveland. In fact, he is grateful for it.

His connection to Cleveland developed five years ago, when he says coming here gave him new life.

"December 9th (2011) I went up to Boston. I did a routine physical. It was the lockout season," he recalled. "I had to workout on the treadmill. After 20 minutes or so multiple doctors started coming in. It wasn't until two days later they diagnosed me with an aneurysm and told me I had to have surgery."

In 2012, Green had open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to repair an aortic aneurysm, a condition that could have been fatal.

"Very shocking," he said. "A lot of words could describe the emotion going through my body at that time, because I was fine. I didn't have any symptoms of heart problems or heart palpitations. So it was definitely shocking."

The surgery left him with a nine inch scar down the middle of his chest.

"I didn't like it," he stated. "I didn't like it at all. It was something that I did not want to be attached to. It was something I did not want to look in the mirror and see. But it was the new me. It was something I had to live with, something I had to get used to for the rest of my life."

It was more than just the scar that required an adjustment. Suddenly, he went from being a professional athlete to struggling to walk at a slow pace on a treadmill.

"I was used to always being active, running, boxing, hiking, playing basketball," he said. "I had to take baby steps towards getting back."

He missed the entire 2011-2012 season, but he knew he'd step on the court again.

"I knew I would," he said about returning to basketball. "I was always positive throughout the surgery. I had my circle, my family, my brother, my mom, my sister. They were all there for me."

He did return to the NBA, and that scar he once hated now marks the person he is proud to say he has become.

"To me it shows character. It shows a lot of what I have been through. It shows that obstacles are always going to come in life but it is how you bounce back from it. That is something that I have bounced back from. That is something no one can take away from me."

Now Green is trying to bounce back from the worst statistical season of his nine-year career. And while Green is new to the land, the city has already given him so much.

"Cleveland has given me new life, " he explained. "Coming here, Dr. Svensson performing the heart surgery, giving me new life. Coming here off a year that wasn't my best. I feel this is going to give my career new life. I look forward to this year and I feel like it is going to be a great year for my team and myself."

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