BOISE - Every scar has a story: A story of pain, redemption and ultimately, a story of hope. Ali Thompson's story begins with a golf club and a headache.
A star at Timberline High School, Ali was the 5-A girls state golf champion in 2009. She earned a full-ride scholarship to Washington State, where she was the team's best golfer her freshman season.
As constant as her success with driving and putting was a severe head pain, which started as a young adolescent.
"I couldn't handle it, I just didn't want to be alive anymore," she remembered. "This pain I have in my head is so intense, and no one could understand it."
The pain was so intense, Ali contemplated suicide.
"I told my Dad, I was like 'I don't think I can do this anymore, I just want to die, the pain is too intense,'" she said.
To cope with the pain, Ali found peace with extreme sports.
"Doing anything and everything - cliff jumping, skydiving - I was out chasing the next high," said Ali.
During winter break of her sophomore year at Washington State, Ali was backcountry skiing when she crashed while taking a jump off a cliff.
"I hit my head in a weird way, and I actually thought I broke my neck," she said.
The pain and concussion symptoms lingered throughout the following week, so Ali made a trip to the local hospital.
"The nurse was crying and he said we aren't actually sure how you walked in here, or that you're even alive, because your brain is two inches inside your spinal canal," said Ali, recalling the visit.
She had what doctors called a Chiari malformation.
"It's not a common diagnosis to have, a protrusion of a certain part of the brain at the back of the head, right at the hull of the skull that transitions to the spinal cord," said Dr. Bruce Cherny, a neurosurgeon at St. Luke's in Boise. "She clearly was a candidate for surgery."
The operation was a success. Less than a year later, Ali returned to the golf course, and even qualified for the NCAA national golf tournament.
"That was an incredible moment for me," she said. "Going from walking again, to having my skull opened up, to not wanting to be alive, to making it at the highest competitive level in golf."
These days, Ali no longer plays golf competitively. She is pursuing a master's degree in counseling at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, and sharing her own story, helping others in a battle she knows all too well.
"She's really lived it, she's had those experiences, so she has this deep empathy for people who are going through trials or going through darkness and she can really say, 'no, trust me, I know there's hope,'" said Ali's friend Keila Rooks.
Every scar has a story. For Ali Thompson, it's a story to be shared, a scar of hope to be seen.
"It's just kind of ironic that you can take someone from a dark place who has contemplated suicide, that didn't want to live anymore and all of those things, and you can turn it towards great things," Ali said. "Your life is special, your life means something, every single person on this Earth has a reason to live."