Ronny Turiaf Expresses ‘Gratitude’ Toward Lakers Paying For His Heart Surgery

Ronny Turiaf

Ronny Turiaf was never a major player for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he did spend his first three seasons in the NBA with the team and became a fan favorite due to his non-stop motor and excellent celebrations on the bench. Turiaf also dealt with a very serious heart issue before he ever played a game which required open heart surgery.

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Even though the Lakers had to void Turiaf’s contract, they retained his rights so that they could re-sign him after he recovered and even paid for his surgery. In a piece he penned for The Players’ Tribune, Turiaf expressed gratitude for everything the team did for him:

“Gratitude” is also my word for the Lakers. Once I failed my physical, they had zero obligation to pay for my surgery. Zero. I had never even met Dr. Buss at that point. But they did, and they were added to the list of people I needed to honor by getting back on the court.

Turiaf also said that he asked general manager Mitch Kupchak for his number 21 jersey and ensured him that he would wear it one day:

I told Mitch Kupchak to bring a jersey to the hospital. I had a Sunday white right in front of my bed. He came to see me, and I had tubes in my neck — tubes everywhere. But I told him, “I’m gonna rock that No. 21. I guarantee you.” He didn’t believe me. I know he didn’t. He had to be like, There’s no way that kid comes back and plays.

Going through open-heart surgery for an enlarged aortic valve in your heart and coming back to play in the NBA only six months later is an amazing accomplishment. Turiaf’s heart and fighting spirit on the basketball court makes complete sense when considering what he dealt with off of it.

The Lakers have always said that they consider their players family and always treat them as such. What they did for Turiaf is more proof of what the organization truly believes in.


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I miss Ronny. Will always hate Golden State for that ridiculous contract, he was supposed to be here a long time.

      1. Smush could not score Kawami Brown and his expiring contract is what brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers . With Pau the Lakers went to three finals in a row winning two of them.

  • Ronny Turiaf was another player like “Mad Dog” Madsen, not the most spectacular athlete but invaluable in the locker room. Great guys to have on your team. This is why the Lakers are, and will always be, the greatest NBA team ever!

    1. I agree with you Ryan Parsons because he always give a hundred percent on the basketball court when he played for the Lakers.

  • Breath of fresh air. Finally. If you are a real Laker fan, not a fan of their popularity, tradition, and championships, this does not surprise you. There’s more to the Lakers than free agent signings and championships. Support your team. Simple request.

  • I had open heart surgery and I don’t know how Ron could possibly play that soon.My ribs still hurt two years later. Wow! I did get to talk to Jerry Buss at the forum in 1985. Class act all the way!

  • seems like a great guy. loved having him in a lakers uniform. he was really, really popular amongst his teammates while he was here.

  • This makes me extremely proud to be a Lakers fan.
    Im happy to hear the Lakers are going beyond the basketball court to help others out.
    This is a good thing and more NBA teams should do these type of things to help people like donating cars and helping the community it just goes to show the NBA cares and is the best sport in the USA!
    Go Lakers!

  • Makes us even more proud to be Laker fans!

    Come on guys, this year should be all about positive thinking!

  • great story even great accomplishment by ronny that why people love lakers greatest franchise ever.

  • rony was that defensive spark plug we needed off the bench and it sucked when they let him go…

  • Ronny Turiaf is such a cool dude. Kobe loved him, too. Anyone remember the video they did where Kobe “jumped” over the Corvette? Lol good times… good times.

    1. Oh wait, Aston Martin! Lol I’m mixing up memories. The Corvette came from the Shaq and Kobe beef, where Shaq said he would show what happens when a Corvette runs into a brick wall LMAO!

  • As a fan you pick your favorite players for different reasons. Mostly for their play on the court. Ronnie was a favorite of mine not because of his play but his heart and will. The Lakers are my favorite because they rep my home town and because of their history. But their also my favorite because they take care of their players. From Magic to Kobe all the way down to Turiaf. Once a Laker always a Laker that has been the Buss way and the Laker way. Best organization in the world hands down.

  • He was a guy to admire coming back to play after a valve replacement. Hard nose guy always leaving what he has on the court.

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