On October 16, 2010, 20-year-old Eric LeGrand lined up with his Rutgers University football teammates and knew they needed him to make a big play. It was the fourth quarter and the Scarlet Knights had just tied the game 17-17 when LeGrand chased down Army return man Malcom Brown and put his head down to tackle him.
“My teammate tripped him up before I got there and I thought I was going to hit him with my shoulder, but I hit him with the crown of my head in the back of his shoulder blade,” LeGrand, now 25, told FoxNews.com.
LeGrand lay motionless on the ground.
He was carted off the field on a backboard to the intensive care unit at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he would learn that the hit fractured his C3-C4 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He was told he would never eat solid foods, never come off a ventilator and never walk again. After six weeks of recovery, he took his first steps in proving doctors wrong and began breathing on his own. On Thanksgiving of that same year he ate a full, solid meal. He’s regained movement in his shoulders, rebuilt muscles in his core and is working on finger twitches as he throws his energy into finding a cure.
PHOTO: Eric LeGrand tests out ‘Adaptoys’ racecar with his nephews. (Reeve Foundation | Adaptoys)