Paying it forward: Husker guard hosts blood drive inspired by close call

Nebraska Athletics and Husker Basketball Guard Sam Griesel hosted a blood drive with the...
Nebraska Athletics and Husker Basketball Guard Sam Griesel hosted a blood drive with the American Red Cross Friday afternoon inside Memorial Stadium.(file)
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 9:44 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - On the court, Sam Griesel can be unstoppable. But in late 2021, while the Lincoln native was still playing for North Dakota State, an experience off the court ripped away that sense of invincibility.

“I ended up on the ground, in and out of consciousness, and threw up a little more than half my blood,” Griesel said.

It was a bleeding stomach ulcer that sent him to the ER and required him to get a blood transfusion. He said it changed his outlook on life.

“That experience kind of made me enjoy all the little things of life, with valuing relationships,” Griesel said.

And it inspired the home-town basketball star to give back to the community by hosting a blood drive at Memorial Stadium on Friday. The event brought in 78 units of blood during a time of urgent need.

“The awareness that he is bringing for this cause is very commendable,” said head coach Fred Hoiberg. “Sam continues to do things that make everybody around him and everybody in this state, everybody that’s affiliated with this University, proud to be a Husker.”

For many donors and volunteers, Griesel’s presence at the blood drive made their efforts more meaningful.

“He’s not doing it for the attention or for the recognition; he’s doing it because he feels like when he had his blood transfusion,” said Kate Dean, who helped organize the event. “His life changed, so just seeing him being authentic in that and wanting to put this on and spending time here today, it was really powerful to see a student-athlete do that.”

Griesel didn’t give blood on Friday given his upcoming games, but he said he will in the future, knowing that each pint can save up to three lives.

“I know there’s a lot of people in this world that are in need of a blood transfusion and there’s a blood shortage,” Griesel said.

And Griesel said he hopes to continue serving the community.

“Lincoln’s going to be a big part of my life for the rest of my life, and I’m sure there will be a lot more things like today in the future,” he said.