My goal in life was always to make it to the NFL….to be able to support myself and my family by means of the game that I love and for which I have a great deal of passion.
On October 16, 2010, I suffered a severe spinal injury during a game against the Army Black Knights when I attempted to tackle Malcolm Brown. As soon as I hit the ground, I realized that I could not move because I tried to get right up and all I could do was move my head. I “freaked out” because I could not breath or move. I thought I was going to die. The doctors never told me that I was paralyzed. However, they told my Mom and my family. I kind of figured it out myself once I couldn’t move. My Mom eventually told me about two months later but by then I had seen it all over the TV.
I was never angry about the situation. I was actually too tired to focus on anything at first. My main concern was just getting some rest. When I got a little bit better, I knew that I had to focus on my physical therapy and utilize the mental toughness that I had gained playing Rutgers football.
I never went through the “Why Me Syndrome” because of all of the support that I was getting i.e. everybody was so positive. I just knew that I had a responsibility to handle and focus on the aspects of the situation that I can control and that’s exactly what I did.
I met a new friend by the name of Adam Taliaferro. We speak often. He was a Penn State football player who was injured as a freshman in 2000 or 2001. He broke his neck and was paralyzed. A year later, Adam walked out of the Penn State tunnel in front of the huge crowd after being told that he would never walk again.
I laugh every single day of my life. I’m surrounded by great people every single day. They treat me as the same person that I was before I was injured. Sometimes, I laugh when people try to shake my hand or hand me something which ends-up in a really big “HA-HA.” All great stuff but laughing has been a part of me forever and it will never leave me.
I never blamed God for what has happened to me because I know that He does everything for a reason. He will not put you through something that you cannot handle. He has blessed me in so many ways that I can’t begin to thank Him enough.
The main thing that I tell young kids today is to focus on being the best that they can be. Don’t worry about others around you and what they are doing. Yes, challenge yourself by going up against what they think but everybody has their own area(s) in which they excel. So, focus on being the best that they can be at doing something even though they may not be the best at that particular objective.
I have been able to inspire millions of people with my story by just being the person that I am. I would have never been able to touch so many people by playing the game of football…the game that I love.
I’m doing so much more now for other people than I’ve ever done before.
Special thanks to Joe LoCascio and Max Teller. This account could never have been written without your help