A Teen’s Shattered Dreams


I’ve always wanted to become a professional football player and dreamt of one day seeing myself in a room filled with trophies. But what I failed to realize was all these dreams would soon be ripped and torn apart.

I joined a group of friends who decided to join the neighborhood’s football team. Some of the other boys had been playing for a while. When I joined the team, the coach took one look at me and decided my position would be center and tight end. On the day of our first game, my mother asked me not to play, as if she knew something was going to happen. While watching her expression change, I asked her not to worry because nothing could hurt me. I’m strong and able to play a good game.

On Oct. 31, 1993, Halloween afternoon, all the players started complaining about the wet and slippery conditions of the grass area in which the game was taking place. The other team had a player who was much larger than myself. Things were going along just fine until the fourth quarter. As I intercepted the ball, I started running down field. I was tackled by four guys from the other team. After being pinned down, this really big guy fell on me also. My leg went outward and then reversed. The coach asked if I could stand up. I told him, “No.”

After an hour of ice packs, they decided to call the ambulance. They took me to Lorretto Hospital then over to Childrens Memorial Hospital. The doctor told my mother that because of the way my hip was torn out the socket, they were going to see if the blood flow could be started up again. So my hip was pinned. After a short period, I was sent home to recover with a pair of crutches at my side. On my next visit to the doctor, the x-rays showed the pins in my hip were bent and wouldn’t hold much longer. So in April of ’94, the second surgery was performed. I was put in a body cast for eight weeks. Because of the size of this cast, it was impossible to take me home. This soon became the longest eight weeks of my life. After removing the cast, there still were more problems. The operation wasn’t a success. I wondered, “when will all this end.?”

My doctor had a special reclining wheel chair made for me. After all the doctors’ visits, operations and dozens of x-rays, I was still unable to walk. I remained in this wheelchair for two years.

Mom took me to see another doctor who wanted to fuse my bones together. This meant I could never sit on the floor or walk up and down stairs the correct way. So we got a second and third opinion. The orthopedic doctors said because of my age (13), they wouldn’t recommend a hip replacement. My mother wouldn’t give up. We basically traveled all over this city trying to find someone, anyone to perform the operation. Finally, she found Dr. James Cohan. After his examination of me, he said he would do the surgery. I donated two pints of blood just to have on hand in case it was needed. One night, Dr. Cohan told my mother he couldn’t do the surgery because of improper insurance. I could hear her saying to him, “Please, you were my last hope.” She thanked him for all his help, said “God bless you,” and hung up the telephone.

She told me everything about the phone conversation. She went to her room to pray. After about 20 minutes the doctor called back. He said that I stayed on his mind and that he was going to do the surgery after all. My mom said, “Thank you, God.”

After surgery, there were two weeks of physical therapy at home. After all the things I’ve encountered, the dream of being able to walk again was hard to believe. Now the treatment was over and it was time to take the first step. I was walking again. One thing I’ll never forget is the way this doctor who didn’t know me was telling me about all the things in this world I could do. He talked about exciting careers besides football. He asked me to promise not to play football because if I did, my hip might not last for seven years.

Often the dream of football still lingers in my mind. But as I walk outside without a wheelchair or crutches, I realize how lucky I’ve been to be given a second chance.

To watch the sunshine in the sky

sitting here watching and counting days go by

To dream of a love I lost

But don’t forget the price it cost

I’ve been lifted up after all

But the dream I lost was football

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