Motivational speaker, entrepreneur, sports analyst and philanthropist Eric LeGrand attended Rutgers University, where his hard-nosed grit and determination made him a multi-faceted player for the Scarlet Knights. On October 16, 2010, LeGrand was running downfield on the kickoff team like he had done so many times before. Also, as he had done so many times before, he reached the ball carrier, but this time the tackle resulted in a C3 and C4 injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Told by doctors that he would never breathe again without the help of a respirator, and certainly never walk again, the true warrior inside LeGrand took form. By January 2011, he was already breathing completely on his own, and he had also regained movement in his shoulders and sensation throughout his body. Aggressively pushing through his physical rehabilitation, he vowed to walk again and has since developed numerous philanthropic initiatives to raise funds for spinal cord injury research.
Professionally, LeGrand has stayed close to football by working as a broadcaster and analyst, and he achieved his National Football League (NFL) dream when Rutgers Football and then Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano signed him with the final roster spot of the Bucs in 2012. Additionally, he continues to show an impressive business acumen as an entrepreneur and has worked as a spokesperson for a variety of international brands. Also a highly sought-after motivational speaker, LeGrand has received top accolades in many other arenas, such as his no. 52 being retired by Rutgers University, being presented the Unsung Hero Award by the New Jersey Hall of Fame, receiving the Jimmy V Award at the 2012 ESPYs and being inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame as a recipient of their Warrior Award.
Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation was established in 2013, with proceeds going towards research to help find a cure for paralysis and to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. Close to six million Americans are living with some form of paralysis, including 1.3 million of those who suffer from a spinal cord injury. LeGrand has used his national platform to lead Team LeGrand in raising more than one million dollars for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
Since his injury, LeGrand has shown the world that obstacles can be transformed into opportunities, and he will continue to drive this message forward until he reaches his ultimate goal of returning to MetLife Stadium and finishing that last play. To him, it is not matter of if he walks again but rather when.