Growing up in his Wilmington, North Carolina neighborhood, Michael Jordan was a playful and immature kid at times. Just like an ordinary kid, he spent a lot of his childhood going to Church and playing with his sibling and neighbors in his garage. He was a curious 5-year-old that just wanted to have fun and play but once upon a time, he almost lost a toe in a freak wood-chopping accident.
Young, playful, and stubborn Mike
A fantastically written story in GQ magazine in 1989 revealed that Jordan once cut half of his toe because he stubbornly kept swimming an ax careless. Not knowing it would hurt him so much, Jordan cried as soon as his toe was damaged and was attended to by his neighbor, who also unwaveringly treated his injured foot the wrong way.
"Michael Jordan is in the backyard, shirtless and shoeless, having a good time, cutting wood. Everyone in his family wishes he wouldn't swing the ax around the way he does. He can't help it, he likes goofing off and having fun. With one last swing—not much different from previous ones—he brings the ax down squarely on his big toe," GQ's David Breskin narrates.
"Blood spouts all over, and Michael screams. It looks as if he's cut his toe almost completely off. As he madly hops about, the toe flaps back and forth, like a door coming unhinged. A neighborhood woman is summoned—she's known as someone skilled in medical emergencies—but she mistakes kerosene for alcohol and pours that on the toe. Jordan howls in pain," Breskin added.
In an interview with David Letterman in 1989, Jordan recalled the incident and said that it was the first worst thing that happened to him.
"I was being bad, first of all. My parents told me not to mess with the ax, so I'm out chopping wood. They said not to bother with the ax, and I was too young to play with the ax. It was very dangerous," Jordan said. "I'm yelling, screaming, and don't know what to do," He recalled after not listening to his parents.
Jordan dodged an injury that could've hurt him forever.
Luckily for 5-year-old Jordan, the ax didn't break his toe to the point that it was broken forever. He dodged a bullet (or should I say ax in this scenario), but no thanks to his neighbor, this was the type of unbearable pain that Michael will never forget.
In fact, it was the most significant injury and accident of his childhood, one that he probably just laughs off (while smoking cigars) today. Thankfully, it didn't keep him away from playing basketball and baseball.
"He's told to lie in bed. He's told everything will be okay. He just lies there, in shock, sort of whimpering to himself, waiting for the doctor. Michael is 5 years old. It's the first thing he can remember of life on the planet: that ax, that blood, that kerosene, that pain. That toe he almost chopped off. It's the thing that could have grounded him forever," as Breskin narrates.
This may be classified as one silly childhood accident, but it was a lesson learned for Jordan on how to handle pain and perhaps never carelessly swing an ax again. This was also a day that almost destroyed Mike's career and the world from witnessing the greatest basketball player of all time.