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SAN FRANCISCO — Sitting alone with a towel draped over his head after the Warriors’ latest romp, a single image of Klay Thompson captured the rarely seen side of a professional athlete betrayed by his own body and forced to work his way back to the top of his craft.

After two and a half years — 899 days, as of Sunday — Thompson’s rehab from two career-altering injuries is finally entering its final stages.

There are good days and there are bad ones, and it was apparent that Friday took an emotional toll on Thompson, dressed in street clothes and forced to watch his teammates’ 118-103 win over Portland from the bench.

That’s where he remained for half an hour after the final buzzer. One by one, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr eventually cycled through the seat beside him.

“I just try to put myself in his shoes,” Kerr said. “He can’t help but stop and think about how much he’s lost the last couple years, just on a personal level. He loves the game so much and not being able to play, not being able to be a part of the team the way he wants to, it’s been pretty emotional for him.”

Thompson was cleared as a full participant in practice this week. It’s now up to getting his conditioning back to NBA readiness, which all parties are hopeful can happen in about a month’s time.

It’s the closest he’s been to NBA competition since his left ACL gave out in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, June 13, 2019. While working his way back from that injury, he ruptured his right Achilles tendon, setting up a second strenuous rehab.

“Unless he wants to write a book and tell every step of the way, nobody will understand what he’s been through, away from the game so long,” Curry said. “And it shows how much this game matters to him. It’s rare these days to see somebody as pure as Klay, just feel every bit of what basketball brings to him. It’s going to hit him at times.”

Now, 899 days later, Thompson is playing five-on-five again, in spurts growing gradually larger over the next month, until he feels comfortable stepping onto an NBA court again. His most recent milestone was sharing the court with his teammates in practice.

The final stage just might be the hardest of all.

“He’s got the basketball back in his hands every day… but he’s still not on the court,” Curry said. “He’s feeling like himself. He’s playing pickup. He’s around our practices. … The good thing is we’re talking weeks instead of months, now.”

Rehab is hard work. It’s also lonely work.

It was that aspect that was the hardest on Thompson, he said this week.

“I think it was more mentally hard than it was physically,” Thompson said Tuesday. “I can do the work. I can be in the gym all day. But having to sit there and watch, it’s not fun, especially for anyone who likes to compete and likes to win.”

He said he doesn’t like to relive the past two years.

“They were just really hard. But that is a part of being an athlete is going through rehab, being injured,” Thompson said. “It’s the worst part of the sport but it is a big part. … I give myself credit because it takes mental fortitude.”

The good days have been more frequent this season, with Thompson often a vocal member of practice, even if initially from the sidelines.

But Thompson, a devotee of two things: basketball and competition, hasn’t shied away from the toll the time away from the game has taken on him. Related Articles

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“There have been times where he’s been pretty down,” Kerr said. “He’s very human. He’s vulnerable. He’s emotional. That’s what makes him such a beautiful person. He just cares. He loves the game and he loves the work and he just wants to be a part of everything. All that’s been ripped away the last two years.”

Some might say that Thompson is getting to the end of the road, but Draymond Green prefers to think of it as approaching the starting line.

“We’re gonna continue to be there for him and continue to push him and wait with open arms these next few weeks in the hopes that he’ll be back sooner rather than later,” Green said. “He’s just a competitor. One of the biggest competitors I’ve ever been around in my life. And you see this, and he is a part of it, so don’t get me wrong, but you want to impact the game. You want to have your presence out there and have your presence felt. And after almost three full calendar years off the floor, it’s tough. We sympathize with him, but we have to be right there and continue to push him.”

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World War II veterans mail ballot application rejected twice, thanks to Texas voter suppression law

Kenneth Thompson, WWII veteran and rejected mail-in voter.

Here’s a headline Texas Republicans probably weren’t looking for when they passed SB1, their voter suppression law: "‘I’ve never missed a vote’: 95-year-old World War II Veteran says his mail-in ballot application has been denied twice due to new requirements.”

“I’ve been voting many, many years and I’ve never missed a vote,” Kenneth Thompson told local news reporter Taisha Walker. He’s been voting so long he paid a poll tax. (The official kind that’s now been replaced with endless and sometimes costly hoops to jump through.) But Texas Republicans have jeopardized Thompson’s unbroken record.

Voters asking for a mail ballot are now required to include a partial Social Security number or driver’s license number on the ballot application—and that number has to match what’s on their registration record. But when Kenneth Thompson registered to vote in the 1940s, voter registrations did not include those numbers, so he literally cannot provide the information required. There is no number that would match his voter registration. As a result, his ballot application was denied twice, even after his daughter contacted both county and state officials to try to get the issue resolved.

“We know it’s a new law, we’re happy to correct it,” Thompson’s daughter, Delinda Holland, said. “He’s a law-abiding citizen. He doesn’t want to miss voting, and yet, there’s no mechanism to add that driver’s license to your record.”

Instead, Holland finally re-registered her father—after he’d been voting for more than seven decades—to ensure that he’d be eligible to vote. He says if he doesn’t get a mail ballot, he will vote in person, but he’s concerned about people for whom that’s not an option.

”I can get out and move around and go to a regular polling place, but these people, lots of people just can’t.”

Elderly white men who served in World War II are not who Texas Republicans were aiming to disenfranchise with this law. But the fact that they cast a net broad enough to catch at least one such person shows how many voters are going to run into problems—problems that in the case of people in groups that lean Democratic are fully intentional. A new analysis by Mother Jones showed that a Georgia law similarly aimed at making it more difficult to vote worked as planned, leading to dramatic increases in the number of mail ballot applications and mail ballots rejected in the state’s 2021 municipal elections. Texas appears to be on track for the same stellar results.

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