"I just felt the sickness, I could just feel it in me, I could feel it in my bones and my blood and my muscles."
That's Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet describing how COVID ravaged his body after testing positive around the end of February ... and now the 27-year-old is focused on getting back on the court.
VanVleet has been out due to the illness for 2 and a half weeks -- but he was finally cleared to return to the gym on Monday to practice. He's still waiting for the green light to play in a game.
VanVleet spoke with reporters Tuesday about how he's handled the situation over the past few weeks -- and was super candid about his experience.
"I tested positive, had symptoms pretty soon after that," VanVleet said.
"Back sore. Body aches. I just [felt] like I just played 3 nights in a row. Sore, headache, my eyes were hurting. I didn't have the shortness of breath or anything like that. I had a fever for a day and a half, two days. But definitely nothing like anything I've ever had."
He added, "It was a whirlwind, definitely an experience that I won't forget ... I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But I'm here, I'm alive, I'm breathing."
"And I know that there's a lot of people that didn't make it through COVID, so my thoughts and my heart is with the families and people that's been affected by this thing that weren't as fortunate as I was and as I am."
VanVleet isn't the only member of the Raptors who was hit by COVID -- his teammates Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, and Malachi Flynn have missed time while battling the virus.
Fred says isolating while waiting out the virus was a lonely feeling -- but it's made him appreciate the game of basketball in a whole new way.
"I caught myself walking into the gym just smiling, smiling like I forgot how much I love this ... I'm just happy to be back with the team right now."
Fred says he's not sure how the virus will affect his conditioning when he returns to action but promises he'll "come out swinging" and give it all he can.
The NBA says roughly 100 players have tested positive for COVID so far this season forcing 31 games to be rescheduled.