DeSean Jackson: fan D.J. Myers, 17, at training camp (Photo).

By the point Rhonda D’Haiti obtained to her 16-year-old son D.J. Myers’ facet on July 25, 2017, he’d been strapped to a stretcher, airlifted to the hospital and was moments away from present process a 10-hour surgical procedure. Unable to maneuver from the neck down, he seemed up at her and stated, “If I am unable to play soccer, I’ll die.”

Quick ahead one yr, and Myers, who’s now 17, is in a wheelchair and unable to really feel something under his stomach button. Soccer is out of the query, and he has but to return to his common lessons at South Lake Excessive Faculty in Groveland, Florida. However he is in good spirits and thriving, thanks partially to some encouragement from Tampa Bay Buccaneers large receiver DeSean Jackson, whom Myers obtained to fulfill in particular person for the primary time Saturday.

“I am unable to do it, I am unable to do it,” Myers stated, preventing again tears, burying his face in his arms and unable to lookup because the three-time Professional Bowler walked in direction of him. “Oh my God, man. Oh my God.”

It was Jackson’s face he noticed on a cellular phone video, days after surgical procedure when he was recovering within the Orlando Regional Medical Middle intensive care unit, and Jackson’s autographed jersey that got here within the mail. A number of family and friends members had reached out to the Buccaneers, telling them concerning the accident, the results of a collision throughout a soccer camp.

“What is going on on D.J.? It is DeSean Jackson, large receiver [for the] Buccaneers,” he stated within the video. “I heard I used to be your favourite participant. I simply needed to want you a speedy restoration. Put God first, preserve praying, I will pray for you as properly and hopefully every thing goes again to regular. I am sorry about your harm. Get properly, and like I stated, put God first and God bless you. Take care, man.”

“I do know he was down. I simply needed to ship him an encouraging message, to not get down on himself,” Jackson instructed ESPN. “Once you’re recognized with being paralyzed and never having an opportunity to stroll, that is positively a devastating factor. So [I was] simply making an attempt to encourage him and cheer him up a bit bit.”

Seventeen-year-old D.J. Myers, left, obtained to fulfill his favourite soccer participant, Bucs large receiver DeSean Jackson, on Saturday. Jackson first reached out to Myers whereas the excessive schooler was recovering from a spinal harm that has left him paralyzed. Jenna Laine/ESPN
Medical doctors needed to undergo the entrance of Myers’ neck after which the again to take away a fractured C-5 vertebrae and change it with a metallic piece. A rod was inserted the place he fractured his C-6, fusing it with the bone. Myers needed to have a tracheotomy tube put in to assist him breathe. He was within the hospital for nearly 4 months. Listening to from his hero, who he’d adopted since center faculty and whose jersey numbers 1 and 11 he wore too, introduced a glimmer of hope when Myers wanted it most.

“I used to be actually in a down place. When he despatched that, it actually made me wish to do remedy, it made me wish to stand up out of the mattress, simply do stuff like that,” stated Myers. “I used to be doing remedy, actually, and he despatched me the video, my coronary heart similar to dropped. I used to be like, ‘Wow. He actually cares for me.’ It actually touched my coronary heart that he did that for me. As a result of not numerous gamers would ever be capable of try this, ya know?”

Medical doctors instructed the household that it is too quickly to find out how a lot Myers will get better. His spinal twine wasn’t severed, however there was injury to it, a situation known as incomplete quadriplegia. Myers has regained a small quantity of dexterity in his arms. He will get extreme complications too. Then there’s the muscle spasms and stiffness in his legs. The bodily remedy has been exhausting.

“It is such as you having a migraine, instances 100,” D’Haiti stated of her son’s situation. “I do not know if it is the shock that goes by his physique however [there] are instances the place the [muscle] spasms may be so intense that it’s going to actually freeze him.”

Miraculously although, he is been capable of keep on-track together with his schoolwork by correspondence programs and completed final yr with a GPA.

“His spirit has by no means light,” stated D’Haiti. “His religion has by no means light. He is nonetheless a typical 17-year-old. Like he all the time says, ‘He is damaged however not defeated.’ That is his mindset that we try to preserve.”

Jackson launched him to teammates as his little brother. They talked soccer and video video games. Jackson even stated he’d get him a duplicate of the brand new Madden for his Xbox.

“Is your sport good although? Is it good or not?” Jackson joked.

Myers snapped again, “Yeah, man, I’ll whoop you!”

Jackson laughed, “I’ve gotta get your gamer tag then.”

“[I told him], ‘Do not get down on your self,’” Jackson stated. “I do know it is arduous, it is powerful, particularly going by remedy. [He’s] taking it one step at a time and simply actually making an attempt to higher himself. Mentally, simply not with the ability to simply stand up and go outdoors and stroll and play with pals, I am positive it is [frustrating] however I am simply making an attempt to encourage him…”

Jackson’s encouragement particularly means lots proper now. Highschool soccer is beginning up once more. Myers’ dream was to earn a school scholarship to play at Florida State. Now, he is volunteering as an assistant to assist the highschool’s teaching employees, who honored him by retiring his jersey.

Jackson marveled at Myers’ willingness to assist his teammates.

“That simply exhibits his motivation, his willingness to not give up, to not surrender,” Jackson stated. “It exhibits different gamers round him that he is likely to be going by one thing tragic, however he is gonna proceed to be motivated. It exhibits others round him that it isn’t gonna break him.”


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