COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) – Mason Baker is saving his best for last at Columbia City. The senior shooting guard is averaging almost 14 points per game while proving to be an invaluable leader to an Eagles boys basketball team that is having their best year since the 2015-16 season.
Baker’s basketball career might have never happened due to a life-altering crash over four years ago.
Back in Oct. 2017, Baker was with a friend driving 4-wheel ATV’s at a ravine near his house. On one last go-around, Baker flipped off his 4-wheeler and crashed into the 15-foot ravine.
“I was in there for about an hour before I eventually got out,” Baker recalled.
Emergency personnel pulled Baker out of the ravine, but not before suffering severe back injuries, a broken wrist, shoulder and punctured lung. Looking back, Baker does not remember much from when he was rescued; just that the entire sequence was a blur.
“I remember waking up right before I went into surgery, and I saw my mom and dad before I went in,” Baker said. “That was the last thing I remember. Then I woke up.”
Not too long after life-saving surgery, Baker was itching to get back on the floor. His physical therapists mapped out an aggressive rehab that would last six months. Baker also had to regain weight – he believes he lost 30 pounds after the crash – and learn how to run again, let alone shoot a basketball.
While the physical rehab was difficult, regaining his mental edge was even more challenging.
“Basketball is what I knew growing up, and (other) sports,” Baker said. “When you don’t have anything to look forward to, you just kind of sit around and sulk for yourself.”
With the help of his trainers, family and other community members, Baker slowly regained his form and learned to trust his body again. Eight months after the crash, Baker was back on the court during an AAU tournament in Tennessee.
The scars from the crash remain along Baker’s back, but he has continued to grow in his years at Columbia City. Baker was named second team all-conference in the NE8 after his junior season. He has since been recruited by a handful of small colleges to continue his basketball career.
College basketball is a priority for Baker, but his next goal is to set a higher standard at Columbia City under second-year head coach Matt Schauss. The Eagles are currently XX-XX with wins over NE8 foes East Noble and Huntington North.
Since taking over the Columbia City program in 2020, Schauss has watched Baker leave his mark with the younger players.
“I think the guys really look up to him and see, to take advantage of each day, because you don’t know what could happen or what the next day could look like,” said Schauss.
As Baker wraps up his high school basketball career in the coming months, he cannot be more thankful for those who have helped him along his journey: from the injuries, the recovery, and the comeback.
“I can’t do it without Coach Schauss, the whole coaching staff, everybody around me. They just made it so much easier on me,” Baker said. “I couldn’t be more blessed to be in the position I am now after everything I had to go through.”