Eric LeGrand amazing journey since paralysis in October of 2010, took another step forward as the insipirational Buccaneer won the Jimmy V Award given by the sports network ESPN during their annual ESPY show Wednesday night.
Say what you want about ESPN’s annual – and sometimes over the top – ESPY Awards, but Wednesday night the network honored former Rutgers and current Buccaneers defensive linemen Eric LeGrand with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Anyone with a heart was touched once again by the inspirational role model – especially those facing a lifetime of challenges.
LeGrand, who played college football for new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, was attempting to make a routine tackle on a kickoff against Army back in October 2010. LeGrand made the hit, but as his body sprawled out across the 25-yard line, he knew something was wrong.
“It was like a flash grenade went off,” LeGrand said. “Everything went silent and in slow motion for a minute. I tried to get up and I couldn’t move. I just blacked out.”
When LeGrand awoke in the ICU doctors explained he had fractured his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae and was facing a lifetime of paralysis and a ventilator to do his breathing.
Through dedication, hard work and maybe even something from powers unknown, LeGrand has made remarkable strides and not only has he been able to come off of the ventilator, he now can briefly stand using the aid of a brace.
After a moving video tribute during Wednesday night’s broadcast, LeGrand was introduced by actor Rob Lowe. As LeGrand came down the stage in his wheelchair the entire crowd in attendance at the Nokia Theatre stood to their feet, greeting him with a thunderous standing ovation. As tears flowed freely, LeGrand soaked in the love and respect from the crowd, scanning the theatre with his ever-present smile.
As LeGrand recounted that fateful afternoon he told the crowd, “Coach Schiano said “You have to pray Eric.’”
LeGrand went on to thank his family, the doctors that treated him and those that continue to work with him on a daily basis to achieve his goal of walking across the turf of a football field once again. LeGrand told the crowd in the pre-award video montage, that one day he wants to go back to the field where he was injured, lie back down, then stand up and walk off the field on his own just as he wanted to that day in 2010.
Doctors have been amazed at LeGrand’s progress, and while no one – other than LeGrand – is willing to say that he will in fact walk again, no one is betting against him.
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