Brotherly love: Scary incident in Denver brings Flohr brothers closer

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Mike Flohr, second from left, has been forced to watch the Mesa State men’s team play from the bench after tearing his ACL protecting his brother, Sean, during an assault in Denver over the summer.

There’s a bond between brothers.

Sure, you might squabble and fight, especially when you’re young, but there’s nothing one won’t do for the other.

In the case of Sean and Mike Flohr, that was never more evident than one night last summer.

The two had just wrapped up their summer jobs and met up with some friends for a weekend in Denver before returning to Grand Junction for the start of school and those dreaded 6 a.m. basketball workouts.

“We’ve been down there millions of times,” said Sean, a senior guard on the Mesa State College men’s basketball team. “It’s always been a really safe city.”

That night is one he’ll never forget, even though he doesn’t remember a thing.

The Flohr brothers and a friend were walking back to their hotel in downtown Denver. Sean was walking a step behind the other two.

“A big group of guys jumped us out of nowhere, hit me in the back of the head before I knew what was going on, so I was done for,” Sean said. “Mike basically stepped in and fought a bunch of them off, and that’s how he tore his ACL. It was pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Mike declined to talk about the incident. Sean spoke with The Daily Sentinel last week, the first time he’s spoken publicly about that night, believed to be part of a spree of more than two dozen downtown attacks last summer.

After a four-month investigation, Denver police arrested 32 people in November in connection with the attacks, where groups of four or five men would approach victims late at night. Some were robbed after the assault.

Mike’s quick action, his older brother believes, saved him from serious injury.

“I went down and Mike turns around to help me and he had to literally pull me up,” said Sean, who was knocked unconscious. “I think that’s when he got kicked in his knee. He’s helping me and our other friend was calling 911 and that made them disperse.

“The only thing keeping me from taking a lot of damage was pretty much Michael stepping in.”

Mike signed with Western State after graduating from Glenwood Springs High School, but transferred to Mesa State, reuniting with his brother. He played in three games last year and was set to compete for a spot in the rotation this season until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the attack.

Sean spent the night in a Denver hospital with a severe concussion. Mike had surgery to repair the torn knee ligament and has spent the past seven months rehabilitating, watching from the bench. Every day at practice, the brothers are the last to leave the gym, shooting baskets together, just like they have all their lives.

Their father, Kevin, is third on Mesa State’s all-time scoring list (1,568 points from 1980-83) and is a member of the college’s Hall of Honor.

Mike doesn’t limp as much as he did earlier this season, and his brother can tell he’s close to being his old self.

“He’s got that bounce back in his step,” Sean said. “He’s bouncing off it, which is cool to see. Some of his athleticism is coming back in that knee.”

The two hoped to play together one more season.

“We were looking forward to it and it’s a bummer, but we’re both really thankful we just made it through that thing,” said Sean, who was hit so hard in the head he doesn’t remember anything about that night.

“The whole thing is just gone from my memory. What I know of the details is what’s been told to me by my brother and my other friend who was there.”

Sean has played through the pain of two bad discs in his back this season, but said everything was put in perspective that night.

“You get fooled into thinking basketball is everything at times, when it really isn’t,” he said. “When it comes down to it, it’s just a privilege to be able to enjoy this when you’ve been through something like that. We might not have made it through. If Mike hadn’t been there, it could have been a different story.”

It took their relationship to a level only they can understand.

“You never know everything about somebody until they’re put into a situation like that and you see how they react,” Sean said. “Michael revealed a lot about himself that night. He showed he’s got a ton of courage.

“A lot of people would have kept their distance until it was over or just yell for help, but Mike’s not going to turn away from a fight. He’s gonna get in and help people who are important to him. It means a lot to me.

“It was a tremendous act of courage on his part. The odds were way against him and he just came in and basically saved my life.”


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