The 'Little Three': Gates Triplets Have Incredible Story
BY JIM EICHENHOFER, HORNETS.COM
When his three children are old enough to understand, New Orleans Hornets assistant coach Bryan Gates will sit down with them and tell the story of their birth, as well as a few other details that took place before and after March 6, 2011.
What an amazing tale it will be. Where will Gates even begin?
Perhaps he could start with Oct. 11, 2010, the day he and wife Robin learned that she was pregnant for the first time. That news alone is wondrous enough for any couple, but there was also this knee-buckling detail from physicians: Robin was pregnant not just with one baby. She was carrying triplets.
The basketball coach might tell the trio of daughter Kendall and sons William and Preston about how, as a result of them being born 13 weeks early, each weighed between just 1 pound, 8 ounces and 2 pounds, 2 ounces when they were delivered. In total, the triplets checked in at less than 6 pounds. They were so small, Bryan will tell them, that he could fit his ring finger around each of their tiny legs.
He will think back to the surreal moment when he and Robin were told by the medical staff at Ochsner Hospital that the delivery of the triplets needed to be delayed for a few hours. As fate would have it, during the peak of Mardi Gras 2011, a New Orleans man had just fallen off of a parade float. The injured man required immediate medical assistance, meaning that Ochsners anesthesiologists were momentarily needed elsewhere in the hospital, to help perform surgery on the parade-accident victim. As a result, the delivery time for Kendall, William and Preston had to be pushed back to the afternoon of March 6.
Bryan might also recall how, as critical decisions were being made on how to proceed with Robins pregnancy, doctors explained to the Gateses that each individual baby had an 85 percent chance of survival. Those odds meant that there was only a 66 percent chance that all three would make it through the delivery.
When the coach wants to remind his children about how precious life is and how fortunate we are to wake up every day and be able to go to work or school, he could talk about what happened on March 19. With Preston not yet two weeks old, the 2-pound, 3-ounce infant suffered an infection, causing his lungs to fill with blood. The infection made it difficult for Preston to breathe, seriously jeopardizing his life. A few hours after the Hornets had lost at home to the Boston Celtics, Bryan was looking at his tiny son, praying that Preston would be able to recover. Despite the frightening infection, Preston survived.
Theres at least one other story Bryan Gates will eventually tell his three children. Its the one that may be the most difficult for the triplets to believe. The one about how a seven-week-old boy became part of one of the most memorable victories in Hornets history.
On the night of April 24, which was Easter Sunday, the Hornets were scheduled to host Game 4 of the Western Conference first round against the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had won Game 3, taking a 2-1 series edge and regaining homecourt advantage from the Hornets. That made April 24 virtually a must-win for New Orleans.
By that point, the seven-week-old Preston had fought through his various ailments and was well on his way to becoming a healthy baby. In recognition of Prestons good health, Robin Gates text-messaged a picture of Preston to Hornets head coach Monty Williams. It wasnt just any picture, though it was a photo of Preston wearing a miniscule Hornets replica jersey with NEW ORLEANS across the front.
The first-year head coach was immediately moved by Prestons story and the photograph. He was so moved, in fact, that during Williams pregame speech in the locker room prior to Game 4, he showed the picture of the recovered Preston in his little jersey to Hornets players.
In the minutes prior to Game 4, Williams told a transfixed group of players, If you think youre in a battle now, you dont know what a battle is. This is Preston. He battled through everything that was thrown at him and now here he is. Hes got his jersey on, and hes ready to go.
You probably already know what happened in Game 4. In one of the most dramatic NBA games in recent memory, the Hornets secured a 93-88 win with several clutch late-game plays. New Orleans evened the series at two games apiece, after many analysts had predicted an L.A. sweep.
During the joyous moments immediately following Game 4, several Hornets players mentioned Williams pregame speech regarding a difficult personal issue in Coach Gates family. The players told reporters that the speech had served as motivation and inspiration for them. However, in the midst of a heated playoff series and with many reporters up against a Sunday-night deadline, none of the NOLA media members including this one pushed to find out exactly what the players meant by their reference. The lack of follow-up questions was also a nod to a respect for the privacy of the Gates family.
In hindsight, its evident that the players were all specifically alluding to Preston and his successful struggle to stay alive.
Doctors had initially told Bryan and Robin that, given the circumstances of the pregnancy, there was a 0 percent chance that all three babies would be healthy enough to be released from the hospital at the same time. This proved to be another obstacle that the infants were able to overcome.
As the 2011 NBA Finals tipped off in Miami, the Gateses were given the go-ahead to bring Preston, William and Kendall home for the first time. On June 1, the entire Gates family departed Ochsner and headed to their New Orleans residence.
Now five-plus months after their March 6 birth, the triplets are healthy and growing. They recently attended the organizations open-house event in the New Orleans Arena, dressed in their best Hornets outfits. At an Ochsner conference a day earlier, Bryan and Robin spoke to hundreds of attendees about the extraordinary care they received during the pregnancy.
Our story was an incredible journey, Bryan said, as he began a speech inside the New Orleans Convention Center. You will not believe what happened.