LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dr. Nyagon Duany immigrated to Indiana from war-torn South Sudan and had a chance to play in the WNBA.
But it's her background as a college athlete that drew her to sports medicine and her competitive edge that keeps her going.
The orthopedic sports surgeon is the first to admit she's not the norm in her profession.
"Women in orthopedics alone, we're a minority. There's not even 5 percent of us," said Dr. Duany.
But she's used her competitive edge to get to where she is and it's winning over patients. "I always try to find some connection," she said.
It's that ability to relate that's gotten her so far in her career. But the journey to Norton Healthcare is one that started thousands of miles away. At just five years old, Dr. Duany and her family immigrated to Indiana from South Sudan.
"We moved here in the 80s because of war in my country," she said.
Dr. Duany says they couldn't have asked for a better upbringing in Bloomington, Indiana. It's where she and her siblings were introduced to the sport they grew to love.
"When you move to Indiana, everybody gives you a basketball. You guys are tall, why don't you play basketball? Here you go," she said.
Turns out, they all had a knack for the sport. Dr. Duany and all four of her siblings each earned a scholarship to play ball in college. She was a shooting guard at Bradley University in Illinois. But for her it was a means to an end.
"My father would always say that your athletic participation or the sports that you play, they're the vehicle to your education. Not the other way around," she aid.
She decided to study pre-med, which meant a lot of juggling practice and games and studying to keep her grades up. But an injury actually lead her down the path of orthopedics.
"I injured my left shoulder, so I had to have surgery and I got to know my orthopedic surgeon really well," said Dr. Duany. "He really inspired me and took me under his wing, and I became interested in sports medicine."
She didn't even let a chance to play professional basketball keep her from becoming a surgeon.
"I got invited to try out for the Fever so that was right when the WNBA was about to start," she said "But I got into medical school and it was still early and so I decided that I'd do medicine."
While she is an athlete, which is pretty common in sports medicine, she doesn't quite fit the mold.
"We're a minority being women in orthopedics, but then you add being a minority in that group and that's an even smaller percentage," she said.
But it's her competitiveness that keeps her in the game.
"I did have some obstacles getting to where I am, but I always knew I wanted to do this, so it was another sport for me. That kind of mentality. That no one is going to stop me, I'm going to do my best and I know that I can do it," she said.
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