Eric LeGrand was at the height of his career when one tackle changed his life; a moment that can’t be taken back but a moment that he decided wouldn’t claim his life. Eric LeGrand was a Rutgers stand-out and had his eyes on the NFL. As a defensive tackle, his coaches utilized his speed and strength and he soon gained the starting position his junior year. October 16, 2011 when Rutgers played the Army Black Knights, LeGrand collided with an opposing player and didn’t come back up. He just laid there unable to move any parts of his body other than his head. He suffered a severe spinal injury. As he was being carted off the field he tried to force a thumbs up to show the crowd he was ok but couldn’t stating “It felt like a thousand pounds.”
HBO has decided to bring LeGrand’s story to life, giving us the opportunity to see where his life is now and the challenges he has overcome. In a moving film apart of the “State of Play” series, LeGrand highlights the film with his mother Karen. I had the chance to speak with Eric LeGrand yesterday and one conversation with him made me change my way of thinking. His inspiring words on faith and hope can make the most nonbeliever see the silver lining and embrace life.
HBO’s “State of Play” has asked you to be apart of a moving documentary about who you are as a man now. Describe the work it took to get here?
LeGrand: Its an honor for them to be doing a documentary about me. I think since this injury happened, it will give people a chance to see what goes behind the scenes with what I go through on a daily basis.
October marks 4 years since the incident. Can you talk about some of the challenges that have presented themselves to you?
LeGrand: Its very difficult and different. I can’t just get up and go like I use to. I use to be able to go hang out with friends with quick ease. I still hang out with them but now its completely changed with me no longer taking 30 mins to get out the door, I now have to rely on my nurse aide to help me and it takes me 2 hours to get out the door. Its simple stuff like that, that has changed. I can’t do stuff on my own.
Your mother is also apart of this documentary with and has been an important part in your recovery. I’ve read that when you were diagnosed she never told you the prognosis. The doctor said you had a 0-5% chance of ever regaining neurological function and 3 months later you regain motion in your shoulders and and sensations throughout your body.
LeGrand: Yea, no one really told me anything. Everyone who came into my room was so positive and upbeat. It was never anything negative and I think thats whats been so important in my recovery. They told me I was going to never walk again but I have faith. I’ve surrounded myself with nothing but positivity and to help work towards finding a cure with the Reeves Foundation.
What was it like when you got the phone call from your former Rutger coach, Greg Schiano, who at the time was the head coach for the Bucs, offered you a contract?
LeGrand: It was great! I always inspired to go to the NFL and to get that phone call and be able to be apart of that team was something I’m thankful for. I visited the team like 10 times out of like 2 years and its been a great experience for me.
You have talked about The Reeves Foundation, you have you’re own entity within it called Team LeGrand.
LeGrand: Its all one goal and thats finding the cure for paralysis. Team LeGrand is apart of the Reeves Foundation and I have been working hard to help raise money and provide a cure for people who do have paralysis. Its important that we do that.
What do you want people to take away from this documentary?
LeGrand: That I won’t give up and that finding a cure is important and I’m working hard to make sure it happens.
Whats next for you?
Well I am doing a walk coming up soon and just continuing doing motivational speaking. I also will continue doing my work with Rutgers.
Like I previously stated, speaking with Eric LeGrand was a privilege and an interview I personally won’t forgot. The daily complaining I do doesn’t even seem right going forward. LeGrand re-einterated many times that Faith keeps you going and it doesn’t look like he has any plans on stopping. The “State of Play” with Eric LeGrand and his mother, Karen, will air tonight on HBO at 10pm. Below you can catch a sneak preview!
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