Suns’ chaplain, Phoenix-area pastor’s miraculous recovery after a massive stroke

Suns chaplain and Scottsdale pastor Travis Hearn suffered a stroke in an area of his brain that doctors said would be "irreversible."
Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 8:12 AM MST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2023 at 8:34 AM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) — Do you believe in miracles? If you don’t, Travis Hearn’s story just might change your mind. He has been the Phoenix Suns chaplain for more than 20 years and is the head pastor at Impact Church in Scottsdale. Just two months ago, Hearn suffered a major medical episode that doctors believed he would not survive or recover from. His miraculous story starts in November. Pastor Travis, or “PT,” as so many call him, worked all year with the Impact Church worship team to write and record music. On Nov. 11, they released their first song. It’s called “He is a Miracle.”

“The song hit number one on the iTunes Christian Music Charts within one or two days, within probably 30 hours,” Hearn says. On that Sunday, Nov. 13, during a sermon going along with the music, he preached, “I don’t know about you, but I believe in miracles...I don’t just believe in the miracles in the Bible. I believe God does modern day miracles. He still does miracles today.”

Prophetic? Perhaps. Just 24 hours later, the 47-year-old otherwise healthy preacher, who says he has not even so much as had a cavity in his life, had a massive stroke.

“I went from dropping grapes to I could not think, talk — nothing,” Hearn explains. “I suffered a brain aneurysm that led to a hemorrhagic stroke in the basal ganglia area of my brain...and the doctor came to Natalie [my wife] and told her where it was and how dire the situation was, and he warned her. ‘Just want you to know that basal ganglia strokes, their effects are irreversible.’”

But Hearn says he and his wife refused to accept that diagnosis. “My wife and I, we believe that God reverses that irreversible and when Natalie heard that, she’s a woman of faith and a woman of prayer,” Hearn recalls, fighting tears as he shares the story. So Hearn got to work — therapy and prayer given equal weight in his road back to health.

The encouragement from so many, including his basketball family, helped as well. “The Phoenix Suns, they are my family and my brothers,” Hearn says. The entire team called him via FaceTime. “Coach Monty calls me after a game and and he’s like ‘PT!’ He’s got all the Suns around him and he’s like, ‘man, we want you to know that we’re with you.’”

Now, less than nine weeks later, Pastor Hearn will be back in the pulpit this weekend, Jan. 15, at Impact Church, preaching his first message since the stroke. He says it will be entitled “Reversing the Irreversible.” And how is this for timing?? The Impact Church worship team releases its second song Friday, Jan. 13, just before Hearn’s return. It’s called “I Need Jesus.”

Meanwhile, therapy continues for Hearn. He says he still has some numbness on the right side of his body. However, he says he has always been healthy, so he’s not sure how this all came on. “One doctor told me two weeks after the stroke, a cardiologist, he said, ‘listen, you should count your blessings,’ he said, ‘where your stroke occurred, you should be dead or a vegetable.’”

“I feel like every time in my own life when I make these massive strides to do something good for God, for the community, for people, there is always opposition, and a lot of times you get hit with an attack after a great success,” Hearn says. However, he also says his recovery proves there is always hope.