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Doctor Seeks Bionic Legs For Ex-NBA Player

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago doctor is teaming up with a paralyzed ex-pro basketball player to get him walking again with a pair of bionic legs.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Debra Dale reports, bionic legs are no longer science fiction. A handful of biotech companies make devices that resemble strap-on braces, with sensors that orchestrate walking.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Debra Dale Reports

But at 6 feet 9 inches tall, former NBA basketball player Mike Williams, 47, is too big for the prototypes.

So Williams has reconnected with an old high school friend who is now an orthopedic surgeon in Chicago. Dr. Dan Ivankovich is trying to persuade Berkeley Bionics to create and donate a set of bionic legs for Williams.

Williams attended De La Salle High School in Chicago and Bradley University, and was selected as a third-round draft pick for the Golden State Warriors in 1986. He went on to play for the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings, and later played basketball in Europe, Asia and South America before leaving the sport in 2000.

On Nov. 29, 2009, he was working as a bodyguard, when he was shot eight times at a nightclub in Atlanta and ended up paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. He also lost a kidney and part of his liver, the Chicago Tribune reported.

After returning home to Chicago in June, Williams noticed Ivankovich making headlines for helping earthquake victims from Haiti. Since then, Ivankovich, who used to play basketball with Williams, has been helping him to learn to walk again, the Tribune reported.