Freshman year of college, Durr's obsessive regimen launched her directly into her first wall. "A brick one," she says.
"I trained with a torn groin for a month. I squatted, I maxed out. Coach Walz was like, 'You dumbass, why would you do that?' I was stubborn."
After surgery, where doctors had to "shorten my muscle, pull it up and flip it over," Durr suffered. Her scar tissue caused agony that required frequent cortisone shots. She'd never missed more than a handful of days on the court, but rehab wasn't proceeding at the pace she'd hoped, and weeks on the bench bled into months. Durr felt pressure to bounce back for the team, expectations she tortured herself with every day she wasn't playing up to snuff.
"My recovery threw a monkey wrench into everything," she says. "I started doubting all of my choices. I couldn't really be myself. I couldn't play basketball like I knew I could. The whole year, I was up and down, up and down. I just kept thinking, What am I gonna do?"
The back and forth in her mind was leveling. Uncertainty, a new emotion. Without basketball, Durr's very identity was in danger of dissolving. She'd been on one track her whole life. The derailment was a shock.
"I was angry, I was upset, I was depressed. If I could've gone back and been smarter about things ..." Durr's voice trails off. She clears her throat. "I fell into a very, very dark hole."
Durr now says the injury forced her to figure out what life meant outside of basketball: "When stuff like that happens to you, God is trying to teach you something." She examined the point of all the hours, the wins, the dedication, the sacrifice, and decided the message was not that she worked her body too hard but that she didn't work her mind enough. Her mother had always told her, "Never let anyone see that they got you beat." The message stuck.
"I've always been this person who held stuff in, went, go, go, go," Durr says. "And you can't do that forever. You can't."
Durr says she is smarter these days. About her mental health, the limits she didn't know she had. She admits she suffers from circular thinking, anxiety that roosts in her brain and makes it difficult to relax. So she meditates, listens to Deepak Chopra. She goes to therapy, examines her fretfulness, her need to please, to never disappoint. She doesn't want to be a tripwire. She wants to tame the swarm of bees in her brain.
"I still get rattled, overwhelmed, but I'm developing tools to calm myself down," she says. "Like, yesterday I didn't shoot the ball well." Durr says the old her would have been internally lacerating herself like it was her job. But the new her breathes deep, lets go.
"If I'm going to sit here and get all sh---y about how I played, then I need to recheck myself," she says. "Life could always be worse."
During Durr's recovery year, Walz, who also has a stutter, showed a disheartened Durr a video recording of one of his disastrous news conferences where his words didn't come easily.
"It was awful. I looked like Bozo the Clown," he says, cringing.
As they watched, Walz gave Durr some advice.
"Laugh at yourself. Be proud of who you are. Don't try to be somebody else. No matter how bad somebody else wants you to."
ON GAME DAY against the Hurricanes, Durr warms up so early she's largely alone, save for the security crews filing in for pregame checks.
Off to the side, a buoyant Audrey and Genesis cheer, "We ready, we ready!" as they stomp their feet. Durr shakes her head, fires off a practice shot. "I'm trying to concentrate over here," she says.
The ball swishes.
"Night, night," Genesis calls out -- her sister's catchphrase -- as Durr stifles a laugh.
A few hours later, the game is an upset, Louisville losing 79-73, Durr scoring only 16 points. Even with the loss, the postgame line for her autograph reaches the rafters and snakes along the top row, fans of all stripes waiting more than 30 minutes to take a photo. Durr smiles, greets the fans warmly, but in the seconds between, her face falls.
Afterward, in the media room, Durr has stopped bothering with the veneer, wilting like a flower at the press table. When asked about the game result, she leans over to the microphone, says flatly, "I sucked today. I played like butt."
The next morning, dressed in gray sweats and a hoodie, sock feet in slides, Durr climbs onto a raised table to tend to her knee in the Cardinals' treatment room. She wraps her leg in a compress, pumps ice water through it. On her wrist, she checks the bracelet that tracks the hours she sleeps.
Leaning back, Durr says she regrets using the language she did after the game, but "it is what it is. Life can't always be all sunshiny, right?"
She changes the subject to her unerring love of basketball, how you can never master the game, how that's where her love springs from. She speculates about the upcoming draft, and the Las Vegas Aces, who, with the first pick in the draft, could pounce for a scoring threat. Durr says she doesn't have a preference for a team; she just wants to be wanted, wants to be seen.
"I'm trying to find how can I grow," she says.
For her game and her psyche, that means honing her defensive strategy, becoming less of a fireman and more of an architect. Acting more like a boss, less like the employee of the month.
"I'm most proud of the person I've become," she says. "I didn't let freshman year break me."
Sometimes, instead of meditating, Durr takes long solitary drives. Windows up, rap thumping, vibrating the glass. She doesn't follow any route, stays mostly on the back roads, trying to empty her head while she cruises along.
"Cause if I don't ..." she starts, but doesn't finish.
“I'm most proud of the person I've become.”
Durr mentions a recent lunch when she was approached by squealing fans. It took her back to her younger self, meeting players. How much those women meant to her, proof of what could be.
Back then, the St. Pius cafeteria staff would beg Durr not to change if she ever went pro. Imploring her to stay the gentle, sweet, humble girl they knew and loved.
Durr remains those things, but she has evolved.
"God knows I'm so thankful," she says, before referencing Kobe Bryant, a player whose mentality she admires. "You can see the dog in him, the grit, like he wasn't going to be stopped." Durr feels the same hunger -- even if her nice-girl demeanor makes it harder to see. Yes, she is grateful. She is kind. But she isn't satisfied. Satisfaction lives only in the future.
"Honestly, I don't think I realized how powerful I can be as a person," Durr says. And then, as she rolls to one side, adjusting her knee, she adds in a voice so soft you can barely hear, "I always care too much."
Allison Glock has been a writer with ESPN for more than 15 years. The author of seven books, her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Outside, Men's Journal and many other publications. She has also written and produced for television and is currently developing a series with A&E.