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The Sasha Goforth story | the Arkansas basketball star's journey to health

Fayetteville great Sasha Goforth opens up about the disease that made her step away from the game of basketball.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Fayetteville native Sasha Goforth is every basketball coach’s dream. While playing for the Purple Dogs she was a McDonald's all-American, named to the Jordan Brand Classic and ranked a five-star by ESPN. 

“By the way she played it would be natural to think, this kid is on top of the world," said Arkansas head women's basketball coach Mike Neighbors. 

The world would learn this spring that she was anything but on top of the world. 

In the summer before her junior year of high school, Goforth was diagnosed with Gastroparesis. 

“In simple terms it means delayed emptying of the stomach. You hear emptying of the stomach and you don’t think she’s waking up every morning throwing up," said former Arkansas basketball player Sasha Goforth.

"We saw this unfortunate deuteriation of her body she started breaking down and physically not gaining weight and getting very ill and not being able to perform the way that she wanted to," said Fayetteville girl's basketball coach Vic Rimmer. 

“I remember this one specific game, it was an important game and mentally on the court I was fighting myself so much I just wanted to give up and run off the court and throw up," said Goforth. "I was pushing through and my body just gave out. My arms and legs dropped and it felt like I couldn’t run anymore.” 

Goforth still dominated during her senior season and had schools from across the country vying for her services. 

“I think what people don’t understand about my disease is it is completely dependent on how stressed I am," said Goforth. 

Despite the stress of moving, Goforth chose to attend Oregon State, turning down a chance to go across the street and become a Razorback.

“That’s a hard decision to make and it takes a lot of bravery to pick the phone up and tell somebody no and she did," said Neighbors. 

In her first season at Oregon State, Goforth started every game, earning All PAC-12 Freshman honors. But the stress of her disease only got worse.

“I would wake up every single morning sitting by the toilet throwing up for two hours. Then we’d go to our pregame meal and I couldn't eat. I know that if I eat I would feel it and won’t be able to run" she said. 

It was no secret to the Goforth family that a change was needed. The Arkansas native made the decision to come home. 

“Knowing that it was that bad, I was just very confident in coach Neighbors and this program knowing it wouldn’t be them affecting my mental health," said Goforth. 

After getting in the portal and transferring to Arkansas, she was the same old Goforth. In 2021 she started every single game.

“Watching her go through what only a few of us knew and she’s playing 30 minutes a game at the SEC level and she didn’t want anybody to know about it," said Rimmer. 

“It was hard for me to play and people not know what I am going through," said Goforth. 

Goforth put up a façade that fooled everyone, but once the final whistle blew each night, she was struggling more than ever.

“I didn’t need sympathy, I just wanted people to understand why I couldn’t go get that extra rebound," said Goforth. 

“You wanted to protect her, you wanted to wrap your arms around her all the time," said Neighbors. 

At the end of the season Goforth had no choice but to take a step back from the game she had been playing her whole life. 

“If that person has gotten to that point and is brave enough to say it, they’ve already made their decision," said Neighbors. 

With the fall semester in full swing, for the first time since early childhood, Goforth isn’t on a basketball roster.

“Complete support and love and understanding saying we are still here for you and you are still a part of this team," said Goforth. 

A junior at the University of Arkansas, she is using this time to get herself healthy. 

“I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning and was nauseous. It’s something I’m still struggling with but I am trying to everything that will help ease me and just be healthy for me," said Goforth. 

With three years of eligibility left, Goforth said her career isn't officially over and that's something that will be decided in the future. For now, she is still on scholarship and is still very much a part of the team. 

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