August 3rd, 2016, a sunny day. It was during one of my over-the-road load deliveries that my life changed dramatically. I had taken a load to Orlando, Florida, and reloaded from Jacksonville to head to Alabama. Since I had been rolling from early morning that day, I shut it down for the day in Tallahassee to get my break and see a friend. While visiting with my friend, I accidentally fell from his second-story balcony in his apartment complex… I was paralyzed from the waist down.
This is my story.
You might think that being the youngest of eight was difficult, but for me it was the best! I learned so much from my big, crazy family. From an early age I was extremely competitive on various levels. I began to listen and learn from others. My failures taught me to be teachable and humble. My competitive nature helped me excel academically, in public speaking, and in sports.
I remember during the summers when our parents would leave for work early, the house full of cousins and football guys. Mom would leave the summer school schedule on the table with work for everyone for the day, with the expectation that it WILL be completed by the time she came home to check on us at lunchtime. Most of the time we went back to sleep after our parents left, so it was usually a "race" to not only get the chores done but to complete our lessons in time as well! Teaching me another valuable life lesson, not to procrastinate! My Mother eventually retired from teaching high school, and while she no longer officially works within the school system, she is always my go to teacher! My Dad passed away two years ago in March 2015…I really miss him.
After a successful high school career excelling in academics and football, I chose to stay close to home, become a WILDCAT, and attend the University of Kentucky on a full football scholarship. They were in their last season of probation. I really wanted to be a part of building something and it took some time to get the program turned around, but by working together as a team, we accomplished that goal. The CATS participated in and won the Music City Bowl in 2006.
Graduation from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Sociology, spring 2007, was a whole new world for me and something I am very proud of. After college, I began what is known as “real life” and became a parent myself. Following in my parents footsteps of working with troubled youth, I began working as a Residential Counselor, which I really enjoyed, and believed in making a difference.
I began dating my soulmate in 2009 and best friend, Terrisha, and we were soon married November 2012. We started our family which now consists of our four sons; Donovan 10, Broderick II 6, Bryson 5, And Braylon 1, and one beautiful daughter Ta'Zuriah 9.
In 2012 I saw an Ad that said make $1,000 a week. With my growing family and obligations I saw an opportunity to make enough money to better support my family. So I began driving trucks as a flatbed over-the-road truck driver. It was hard at times, not physically, but emotionally. It was hard being away from my family, sometimes a week at a time, but it was a sacrifice that all of us got used to over time. The work of securing my loads and tarping them was my chance to work out and stay in shape.
Fast forward to August 3rd 2016, the day I was injured. After I hit the ground the wind was knocked out of me, and I felt embarrassed, so I sat up on my bottom. Once I caught my breath, I tried to stand up and realized I couldn't move my legs. Everything felt like I was stuck in a dream. The paramedics came, and I kept asking them if this was real. Sadly, it was. I had completely fractured my spine and was paralyzed from my belly-button down.
It's hard going from feeling you can do anything physically to needing help or not being able to do certain things. Thankfully I know it could be worse. Throughout my rehabilitation time, I saw patients daily who could not move anything but their face. Or worse, they had brain damage and did not recognize their own wife. I am blessed to have a fully-functioning brain with all of my life's memories and knowledge. I'm blessed to be able to use my upper body strength to assist me as a paraplegic. And most of all, I am blessed to have such a loving family and amazing friends that help me through these hard times. I wake up everyday trying to be a better man and be more independent with my disability. Maybe one day I will be able to get on my feet again but I will never stop trying to be extraordinary.