Meet the Oklahoma high school basketball player who can play defense in her sleep

Shelby White's defense is a big reason why the Snyder girls basketball team reached the Class 2A state tournament this week. And she often plays it in her sleep due to narcolepsy.
by Jason Kersey Modified: March 6, 2012 at 9:46 am •  Published: March 5, 2012

SNYDER — Coach Jeremy Tharp insists his Snyder girls' basketball team won the Class 2A state championship last year largely because of Shelby White's defensive performance.

“We put her on everybody's best player,” Tharp said.

The 5-foot-2 guard defended tall players and short players. Big players and small players. She made steals and took about eight charges in the Cyclones' three tournament games.

“Defense just is a natural thing for me,” White said.

So natural, she can play it in her sleep.

Literally.

The senior guard has narcolepsy, and at random times, in any and all circumstances, falls asleep.

White's eyes stay open and she continues doing whatever she was doing, but she is actually sleeping.

There are blank spots in White's mind for just about every game she plays.

“I remember the points of the game up until where I go to sleep,” White said. “I don't remember anything from when I'm asleep.”

Tharp has learned to recognize when White falls asleep so he can get her out of the game. It's not uncommon to see White eating on the bench to get herself going again.

“It just randomly goes out,” White said. “I look like I'm completely awake, but zoned out.

“My parents used to say, ‘That's just Shelby.'”

Dr. Jonathan Schwartz at Integris in Oklahoma City diagnosed her with narcolepsy about three years ago. She sees him every six months.

All her life until the diagnosis, she slept constantly.


by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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