Jo Jo Polk, a member of Lawrence High's 1995 Class 6A state championship football team, is recovering from a neck injury suffered last month during an arenafootball2 contest.
Polk, a defensive back for the Tulsa Talons, crashed headfirst into the padded boards three weeks ago at North Charleston Coliseum while playing against the Charleston, S. C., Swamp Foxes.
Polk suffered a unilateral fracture of the C-6 vertebra.
Despite the severity of the injury, Polk remains upbeat.
"It's going OK," Polk said Tuesday from his mother's home in New Orleans. "I need to wear a halo and back brace to keep my back straight."
Polk, confined to a bed most of the time, has been ordered by his doctors not to walk alone.
"I can walk around, but not by myself," he said. "My legs go numb when I try to walk."
Polk will learn more about his prognosis on Friday during a scheduled doctor's appointment.
"The doctors are going to do a bone scan," Polk said. "That will determine whether I'll have surgery on my neck. The doctors felt confident I may play again, definitely not this year but maybe next season. If it doesn't heal the way I want it to heal, my career is pretty much over."
Before the injury, Polk had been thriving in his first season in the indoor football league.
"It was going real good," said Polk, who had played in five games. "We were 8-7, I had five interceptions and a touchdown. We were on our way to the playoffs. Without me, we made the playoffs."
His teammates haven't forgotten him. The Talons are wearing stickers with Polk's No. 3 on their helmets.
"That made me feel better," Polk said.
Lawrence resident Cheryl Hamilton, a close family friend of Polk's, has been keeping tabs on the former Lion.
"The doctors say he's doing well for an injury like that," Hamilton said. "They're amazed how far he's coming along."
After graduating from LHS in 1996, Polk played two years at Coffeyville CC and two years at Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla.
During Lawrence's '95 championship season, Polk had 46 carries for 357 yards with four touchdowns. The speedster also had seven catches for 148 yards and two TDs. On defense, he intercepted five passes.