“Positive outlook” helps Danielle Scott as she recovers from tragedy

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Danielle Scott-Arruda
Danielle Scott-Arruda hits the slide past Brazil's block in the 2012 Olympic gold-medal match in London/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

The volleyball world was rocked when news came out last November that Danielle was stabbed while trying to protect her sister, Stefanie Vallery, who was ultimately murdered by her estranged husband.
Danielle was badly injured, stabbed in both hands, on her arm and in her leg, her niece — also named Danielle — was also stabbed, and their world was changed forever.
“I’m doing well,” she this week over a cup of coffee. “I’ve always had a positive outlook on things even under the most difficult circumstances. I just try to find something positive in everything.
“That’s how I’m dealing with this very unfortunate situation. I can’t put words into what this situation is. But I’m doing well.”

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“I think it helped with my recovery, that I played so many years. My recovery has been remarkable, praise the Lord, that obviously it could have been a much different situation. But I’m getting better, I’m recovering well, and I’m trying to find positive things.
“With an 8-year-old and the spirit she has, and being surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends in the volleyball world, all the prayers, all over
the world, I couldn’t have been held in a more positive light.”
— Danielle Scott
Danielle Scott
Danielle Scott visiting with VolleyballMag.com this past Tuesday

This was a different kind of interview. You don’t normally laugh as much or cry when you do interviews.

Danielle Scott and I both live in Baton Rouge and have been friends for a long time. Volleyball is, of course, what brought us together, the first time after one of her five — yes, five — Olympics to be a guest on my television show.

The last time we did an interview was in 2016, when she was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame.

But we see each other now and then at different volleyball events, because Danielle has stayed involved, both on the local and national levels.

You will not meet a nicer person in our sport.

Which is why the volleyball world was rocked when news came out last November that Danielle was stabbed while trying to protect her sister, Stefanie Vallery, who was ultimately murdered by her estranged husband.

Danielle was badly injured, stabbed in both hands, on her arm and in her leg, her niece — also named Danielle — was also stabbed, and their world was changed forever.

“I’m doing well,” she this week over a cup of coffee. “I’ve always had a positive outlook on things even under the most difficult circumstances. I just try to find something positive in everything.

“That’s how I’m dealing with this very unfortunate situation. I can’t put words into what this situation is. But I’m doing well.”

She smiled.

“Physically I’m getting better each day.”

Two fingers on each hand were are completely bandaged and she has silicone covering the knuckles on each hand. 

The stab wounds were severe, but she’s made remarkable progress with strength and manual dexterity.

“I’m making improvements. I have at least another six weeks of (physical) therapy. I’ll see the doctor in six weeks.

She said she’s also still doing therapy for her leg, but is walking without a limp.

“I haven’t started running yet, but I’m doing really well.” Everyone (the physical therapists) is happy with the progress, but I would like to be doing everything now.”

She laughed, because Danielle — a standout basketball player who almost played in the WNBA in addition to being a volleyball star at Long Beach State — is now helping coach her daughter’s basketball team. She admits to doing too much in practice and forgetting that she shouldn’t try to catch a basketball. 

Juliánne, who is a precocious 8-year-old, is quite tall — after all her mom is 6-foot-2 — and very athletic, a dancer and soccer player who is even starting to embrace volleyball.

Juliánne has been a huge help for Danielle throughout, especially when she couldn’t use her hands for a while after getting out of the hospital. For that matter, she lost a lot of blood in the attack and blacked out.

Danielle didn’t have her phone for a while and joked that it made for a good break from social media.

“I’m still responding with thank-yous to those who reached out to me and contributed to the GoFundMe. There were so many areas like emails and texts and messages and the fund. I’ll take a few minutes here and there and just type away. There were so many cards.

“It’s a good overwhelmed.”

Speaking of overwhelming, never was the outpouring more apparent than in the fundraiser set up by former Olympic teammate Tayyiba Haneef-Park. The goal was $50,000 to help with medical expenses; as of Thursday the total raised was $61,150, including $10,000 from USA Volleyball.

“The bills are still coming in. And now with the new year I’ve got a new deductibles, so every visit,” Danielle said with a laugh.

“So that was a great help. You know, I couldn’t do a couple of clinics (for which she’s paid), so the fund has really helped.”

Danielle has a wonderful family and a great circle of friends. In my case, some of the early news came from Penny Lucas White, the Alabama State coach who is another former national-team player from Baton Rouge.

One of Danielle’s closest friends is Aretha Arzu. She flew in from New York twice. Haneef-Park obviously stepped up in a big way. There are many others, both within the volleyball world and out.

Her dad, Charles Young, is a rock who has always been there, especially when Danielle and Juliánne were victims of the awful flooding we had in Baton Rouge in 2016.

For that matter, it’s been a hell of a couple of years for Danielle, whose mother died before the flooding and whose grandfather died last year.

“It’s been a lot. I guess one of the things I’d like to do is make more awareness of domestic violence,” she said.

“There were signs that you’re just not aware of and in hindsight, it’s like, ‘Oh.’ Just knowing the statistics of women being physically and sexually abused. Things you don’t think of until it hits close to home. There are so many signs and the do’s and don’ts of dealing with someone who may be going through something. I probably did all the don’ts.”

And this is where we cried.

People had suggested Danielle is a hero. I think she’s a hero, but when I asked her she cried, which made me cry, too.

“You can’t feel like a hero in a situation like this,” she said, pausing to gain her composure.

“My sister died and you feel like you didn’t do enough.

“You don’t know how you’re going to react. I didn’t feel real. It was like a scene from a movie but you’re right in the middle of it.”

The man who murdered her sister, Michael Vallery, was at large for more than a month before turning himself in December 24.

“When I tell you that you pray, you should pray specifically,” Danielle said with a smile.

“My prayer should have been ‘Let him be caught tomorrow.’ Because I was like, ‘Lord, please let him be caught before Christmas. Let him turn himself in before Christmas.’ And he turned himself in Christmas Eve. So my prayer was answered.

“The power of prayer and being specific.”

Then she mentioned Juliánne.

“She was so sweet and her prayers, she was saying things like ‘Let him turn himself in and not hurt others because he’s hurting.’ Wow, that’s amazing.”

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To contribute the account to help with Danielle Scott’s medical expenses, go to GoFundMe.

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