July 7, 2023 

Shey Peddy details miraculous comeback from ruptured Achilles

Phoenix Mercury guard Shey Peddy is already back in action after 2022 injury

Late in the third quarter of the Phoenix Mercury’s playoff opener against the Las Vegas Aces on Aug. 17, 2022, Mercury guard Shey Peddy inbounded the basketball to teammate Megan Gustafson.

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After Peddy inbounded the ball, she slid to the corner of the 3-point line and then attempted to curl around the line to receive the ball back from Gustafson, who was dribbling on the right wing.

Peddy never received the ball as she crumpled in a heap grabbing her right Achilles. She was carried off the floor and later diagnosed with a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

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“It’s gut-wrenching to see any athlete go down with an injury like that,” said Mercury head athletic trainer Hannah Wengertsman. “And I think myself and the rest of the team knew what had happened, unfortunately, the way an Achilles tear happens. We all know what it looks like and feels like. That was a big gut punch to the team because Shey is such an integral part of the glue that holds this team together.”

With the injury happening in the playoffs and her surgery taking place Aug. 26, 2022, it seemed like it would be a long shot for Peddy to play at all in 2023. A ruptured Achilles takes between nine and 12 months to heal.

However, in Phoenix’s fourth regular season game of 2023 on June 2 against the Los Angeles Sparks, Peddy checked in. Not even nine months since the injury, Peddy was back.

Peddy received a nice ovation from the Mercury faithful when she checked in and proceeded to play eight minutes in the game.

“Honestly, I thought I was going to cry,” Peddy said. “I was getting a little emotional. Like it just all hit me at once. Like I’m really back out here and it’s full go.”

Peddy explained how she made it back so quickly from an injury that has not only devastated seasons for players but hurt careers.

“The process went really well,” Peddy said. “Luckily for me, my Achilles healed great. Luckily I didn’t have any major setbacks and I was able to go out there and give it my all.”

A basic but strenuous exercise was key for Peddy’s return. She said she did “thousands and thousands of calf raises.”

Returning from a major injury is not a one-woman process. Peddy talked about how Wengertsman made sure she had what she needed in her recovery process. She also stated that then-assistant coach and now-interim head coach Nikki Blue helped her throughout the offseason.

The Mercury share a practice facility with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. The two teams have a well-documented bond.

Peddy discussed how a few of the Suns’ players helped her after her injury. She pointed to Damion Lee, who has dealt with numerous injuries in his basketball career, and Kevin Durant, who has returned successfully from a ruptured Achilles.

“Throughout the offseason I spoke to a lot of the Suns’ players,” Peddy said. “Damion Lee — we’ve spoke a lot. … I spoke to [Kevin Durant] a little bit when he came and he was just telling me where I was at, he’s like, it’s go time from here. All the hard part is gone. And it’s just been all positive. Everybody just let me know how it starts in the beginning and now that I’m here, I just appreciate everybody’s advice and being able to help me.”

Lee, who has had both of his ACLs repaired, was a newcomer to Phoenix for the 2022-23 NBA season. He hit it off with Peddy due to their connection to Philadelphia and both going through injuries. Peddy went to Temple and Lee went to Drexel, both Philadelphia schools. He said he provided both unsolicited and solicited advice to his new friend on how to recover from her surgery.

“I remember one day, we talked for probably like 15 minutes and I said my piece of what I’ve gone through with both of my knee injuries,” Lee said. “I had a foot procedure before. Broke my hand twice. Sort of just letting her know that I understand the rehab process and if you ever need to talk or anything, I’m here. I’m a huge supporter of not just men’s basketball but women’s basketball.”

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June 3 was a happy day for those involved in Peddy’s return.

Lee watched the game on television with his wife and son and said it was “a great joy” and said he was excited his friend was healthy and able to be back on the floor.

Wengertsman gave her perspective on Peddy’s return to the court.

“It was a really incredible feeling,” Wengertsman said. “From being there from the time of injury — being that first person who had recognized what had happened and helping her get off the court to seeing her play her first live minutes, it’s a pretty incredible feeling. And all the credit goes to Shey. She’s the one who did the work. She’s an incredible athlete but she’s an even better person. I learned a lot from her just getting to spend the whole offseason working with her every day.”

Southern California-based orthopedic surgeon Richard Ferkel performed Peddy’s surgery. Peddy said she didn’t know if she would have had the same outcome if a different surgeon had operated on her Achilles, saying he was highly transparent and caring. When he gave her the go to play, Peddy gifted him one of her jerseys.

It has not entirely been smooth sailing for Peddy since her return to the floor. Since her June 3 return, she has missed five games with right Achilles soreness.

“Kind of was trending in the wrong direction,” Peddy said. “It was just kind of a lot in a short amount of time. So I just took a break to just get more rehab in.”

Peddy said she is feeling good now and hopefully, for the Mercury’s sake, she continues to stay healthy moving forward. She is coming off a season where she averaged a career-high 9.9 points per game, 3.4 assists per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. She has been solid in her limited minutes so far this season and can only help a Phoenix team that is currently 3-13.

The next chance to watch Peddy play is Friday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT against the Minnesota Lynx on ION.  

Written by Jesse Morrison

Jesse Morrison covers the Phoenix Mercury for The Next. A native of Roanoke, Va., Jesse moved to Arizona in 2017 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sports journalism. Outside of The Next, Jesse works for Arizona Sports, co-hosting an Arizona State podcast, producing a radio show and writing for their website.

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