Knoxville doctor shares story of Pat Summitt going into labor on recruiting trip

Published: Jun. 28, 2016 at 9:13 PM EDT
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There are no shortages of stories to tell of Pat Summitt's determination and drive both on and off the basketball court. The Knoxville doctor who delivered Summitt's only child shared one of them.

Doctor Leonard Brabson can remember the sequence of events like it was only a few days ago. Brabson recalls when Pat Summitt and he discussed what would happen when it was time for her to give birth to her son, Tyler, especially since the due date was during recruiting season.

"We knew early pregnancy that she was going to be delivering at a time that she should be out visiting recruits. So we had a deal that she would never be more than two hours away from the hospital. What she didn't tell me was she interpreted that to mean two hours by UT's jet plane," Brabson explained.

As it turns out, Summitt took off to Pennsylvania to woo a top prospect named Michelle Marciniak, and it didn't take long before things started to progress into labor, despite Summitt being a couple of weeks early. As the story goes, Summitt was in the Marciniak home when her contractions started and eventually had to leave the recruiting trip early to fly back to Knoxville because her contractions were so severe. In mid-flight, Brabson recalls that Summitt was laying on the floor of the plane when the pilots decided they would make an emergency landing somewhere in Virginia.

Summitt wasn't about to give birth to her firstborn anywhere but Tennessee.

"The pilot wanted to land over Virginia. Well the year before Virginia had knocked them out of going to the Sweet 16 or something, and she said, you're not going to land this plane in Virginia, you're going to have one mad woman on your hands, and you didn't want her to be mad at you," Brabson said.

The pilots followed orders and got Summitt home and to Brabson in time for her to give birth to Tyler. In thanks, Summitt treated Brabson's entire office staff to a game as guest coaches where they were able to sit behind the bench, as well as be in the locker room with the team as it prepared to take the floor.

Brabson said Summitt was always a woman who knew what she wanted, and she always got what she wanted.

"She knew what she wanted and she was going to do what she had to do to get that. Now, on the other side, she was a very kind person with a gentle spirit. But when it was about business, it was about business, and she was always taking care of business," he said.