It was June 13th, 2014. I was leaving the movies with my friends. As I was crossing the intersection, I got ran over. I blanked out for about five minutes and when I woke up, I tried to stand up, and when I stood up, my bone came out of my skin. And I fell to the ground in pain. About ten minutes later, the ambulance had already showed up. Right after I woke up, as I was waiting for the ambulance, one of the mall security officers was asking me what happened. As I was describing it, I was fading out. Then an ambulance showed up. They asked me the same questions: How did it happen? Where do you feel pain at? Can you move your arms? Can you move your toes? After that, they put a neck brace on me. They twisted my leg around and put me on the stretcher.
The day had started with me at South County Mall trying to find me an outfit. After I left South County, went home, got dressed in my new outfit: a blue polo shirt, a dark blue jean jacket, some black jeans, some Nike Foam Posits. I walked to the bus stop. The temperature was in the fifties, and the sky was somewhat overcast. I got off the bus to meet my friend, Bakaray, and then we waited on the bus for another ten minutes, and at the next stop we got to our other friend’s house. His name was Robert. After we waited on him, we walked to the train station to go to The Galleria. We were planning to see 22 Jumpstreet, about two undercover police officers going to college to find the source of who was selling the drugs to the kids on campus. We had our tickets, so until the show started, we just walked around the mall. We went into the Foot Locker, tried on a couple shoes, and then we went to the Food Court, sat in the Food Court for about an hour eating Panda Express. Then it was time for the movie to be showing. There was a long line, the theatre was crowded, and we almost didn’t find a seat. The movie was hilarious.
After the movie, we stood outside the mall in front of The Cheesecake Factory and wondered what to do next. Antonio went to Five Guys and he ordered some fries and a soda. My friend Robert went to Burger King and got some ice cream. As we waited for them to get back, me and Bakaray, it was time for our train to come so we started walking toward the Metra station. As we were crossing Brentwood, me, Bakaray, and Antonio got slammed by a dark blue SUV going as fast as a football thrown by Michael Vic. It was an older man who hit me. He yelled, “Why didn’t you guys move out the way?”
When I got into the ambulance, the parademic gave me an IV. Next time I woke up, I was in the hospital. I felt like my leg was on fire, because when I had woken up they had straightened my leg back out. My mom was in the room, shaking her head, asking me how did it happen. Family members started to arrive, like my cousins Justin, and Jheryck. They tried to joke with me to make me feel better. “Since it looks like you’re only gonna be able to wear one shoe, I can wear your shoes for you,” they said. Then the doctor came in and talked to my mom, telling her how long it would be until surgery. Then they gave me some medicine — oxycotin, I think — and I fell asleep until it was my surgery time.
Then the doctors came in and prepped me for my surgery, telling my mom how long it would take. “This might be a long procedure, it should take up to two to three hours. You should stay on this floor of the hospital just in case we buzz to give you an update,” they said. “Are you ready?” they said to me, and took me in the back. They had me try to scooch off the little bed onto the table and then they put the mask over my face and then I dozed off. I woke up in the recovery room with a huge cast on my leg. And pain. My mom asked me how was I doing. The doctors came in like an hour later, showing me how to use the crutches, and how to walk up steps.
I couldn’t walk up the steps for real. And I was in so much pain that I almost started crying. So they told me to lay down for a couple more hours and try it again. And I still couldn’t do it but they sent me home anyway. So when I got home I had to struggle up the steps. I wasn’t used to using crutches. I slept on the couch downstairs because I couldn’t make it up the steps to my room for the period of time I was on bed rest.
Six months later, I went to the doctor for a check up, to get an X-ray. My bone was nowhere near starting to attach back. I asked Doctor Shoenecker, “Will I ever be able to play football again?” and he said, “We won’t be able to tell until your next doctor’s appointment if we’re going to make any progress.” His words felt like a criminal getting sentenced. I started kind of feeling depressed. Then he assigned me to physical therapy. I hated it.
Three times a week, my mom drove me to Children’s Hospital. The room had light blue walls and a lot of windows and exercise equipment. I would wear black shorts and a white t-shirt. The first thing they would do is stretch my legs by having me lean my back on the wall and put one foot out. Then they’d have me walk on the treadmill. It was like hell. I had sharp pains biting me in my entire right leg. They had me balance on a light blue balance ball type thing. And then they’d take me to the back stairway and have me step on my right leg for ten seconds and then step down and step on my left leg for ten seconds to get my balance and strengthen my legs. After physical therapy, I would drink a lot of water out of a Gatorade bottle. Then I’d go home and lie down like a dead fish.
The next doctor’s appointment, Dr. Shoenecker said my leg was starting to show progress. He said, “If it continues to show good progress, you might be able to play football, but it all depends on how healthy you eat and how much you go to physical therapy.” Then my mother tried to cook healthier food. She would make healthy stuff, like salads with carrots, tomatoes, purplish looking onions, lettuce, spinach, shredded cheese and croutons. I hated it. Dr. Shoenecker had also assigned me to go to physical therapy four days a week, so almost everyday from 4:50 to 5:50 I would stretch, walk, and climb. I hated it, but then again I knew that if I wanted to play football I had to complete it.
I love football like a dog loves a bone. I love getting hit. When you get hit, the adrenaline gets to pumping. I love catching the ball. When you catch the ball, everybody just be chanting. I love winning. When you win, there’s celebrations and going out to eat and finally getting some rest. I’ve played football since I was ten. When I started I was playing on a JFL team called Metro Warriors, and we played this team called City Wreck. During my first game, I got in for three plays. The next time, I was almost in every play. I played defense — basically all I had to do was try to get the ball. When I was a freshman, I trained with high schoolers at Cornahan. I practiced with them during the summer. When school came around, I was on the waitlist to get accepted into the school, and then, when I got accepted, it was too late for me to play football until the next season, and I got mad. I ended up at GCAA sophomore year of high school because of my injuries — my mom didn’t want to get re-injured by the kids at CPA.
About seven months of physical therapy, salads, and rest passed between the previous doctor’s appointment and the most depressing doctor’s appointment of my life. My mom and I walked in, ready to get my X-ray, and Dr. Shoenecker said, “Are you ready to see your progress?” He said that from how my leg broke, if I was to play a contact sport, it could probably break again. He said the decision would be up to me and my mom to make, but the decision wouldn’t be a good choice. My mom, wearing all black, just looked at me and asked the doctor a few more questions.
During the car ride home, I was silent. I thought about how I was so close to playing in high school, and I had missed my chance. My mom kept repeating, “It’ll be all right.” When we got home, I went to sleep. Life after football has been hard. I feel like I’ve had to give up my dream. I haven’t quite figured out what my new dream is, or what I want in life. So I just keep plodding along. I wake up every morning at 7:20, eat some Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Cheerios, take a shower, and go to school. In most of my classes, I just sit back and chill. I scroll through images of shoes: the new Yeezys, the new Jordans, and just think about how I’m going to get ‘em. Then, when I get home, I turn on the TV and watch the day’s football highlights. I watch Tayvon Austin run yards, I watch Todd Gurly break tackles, and I watch John Ale watch for balls to catch. I feel like I’m standing in the bleachers of my own life. I watch time pass, but I feel like I’m not the same person I used to be. I’d rather be on the field than in the stands. I guess I’ll just have to find a different field.