LJWorld.com weblogs Tale of the Tait
Trevor Roberts' tragic football injury a reminder of how precious life can be
I’ve been covering football games, football teams and football players for 11 years now and in that time I’ve been fortunate enough to only see a couple of truly ugly injuries.
I’ve seen my share of twisted ankles, bum hamstrings and even broken bones. But in only a couple of instances have the injuries hampered a player for longer than a few weeks or even threatened their life.
One such injury occurred about six years ago when a young man named Michael Kowal injured his neck during a drill at a Mill Valley High School practice. The injury left Michael paralyzed and he remains in a wheelchair to this day. That one stuck with me. I was there in the hospital with Michael just days after his injury. I saw him fight through rehab. I became close with his family, such great people who made me feel like family. I watched as the community rose up to support Michael and his family, strangers and friends alike stepping up to perform acts many of them barely knew they were even capable of.
I’m happy to report that the last time I saw Mike — at a KU baseball game earlier this year — he was happier than ever and appeared in nearly every way to be a normal college kid. Michael could’ve given up. He could’ve quit on life and sulked and made the world around him feel like the hell he surely lived at times. But he didn’t.
And that brings me to my next story, one that hit even closer to home.
A couple weeks ago, during a McLouth High School football game in Wichita, a young man named Trevor Roberts broke his leg so badly that a rod had to be inserted into his leg from his knee to his ankle. Complications arose from the injury when Trevor experienced gangrene and, within hours of feeling his strong, 17-year-old bones break, the young man was fighting for his life.
Surgeries piled up one after the next and antibiotics fought off the infection. I’m sure many of you have read about this young man in our paper or seen his story on one of the many news stations that picked it up. I lived it. Trevor is my wife’s cousin and for days our family fought and prayed, hoped and cried, laughed and loved. It’s what they’re best at. And, thankfully, Trevor’s no different.
When all was said and done, Trevor’s life was spared. The prayers worked there. But his left leg was not. Because of the gangrene and the harsh toll the surgeries took on his body, Trevor’s leg had to be amputated just above the knee. One minute he’s a strong-as-an-ox young man, racking up touchdowns and yardarge in his No. 22 purple-and-gold Bulldogs jersey and the next he’s living a life no one could ever be prepared to live.
Just like with Michael Kowal, I’m happy to report that Trevor’s doing better than most people I know would be and certainly as well as could be expected. He’s got a fighter’s spirit and a wonderful outlook on the rest of his life.
Similar strength and substance has been shown by current members of the KU football team. Sophomore defensive end D.J. Marshall continues his fight against Hodgkin lymphoma. True freshman Jeremiah Edwards continues to be a Jayhawk despite being told, just before the season began, that a heart condition likely signaled the end his playing career.
The list goes on and on. Marshall and Edwards aren't the first Jayhawks to endure something like this. Unfortunately, they probably won't be the last either. Surely, those guys understand exactly what a guy like Trevor is going through right now.
As for the rest of us, we’d do well to take a lesson from Trevor and Michael and the countless others like them out there whose names we do not know.
Stories like these tend to tug at the heart strings momentarily only to be forgotten as the hours turn into days and the days turn into weeks. Don’t let this one slip away.
When things aren’t going your way, remember Trevor and think about how lucky you or your family or your sons and daughters are to have what they have. And when you’re down in the dumps about everyday life or something that maybe isn’t all that important, remember Trevor and how, even in the face of such a terrible personal tragedy, he’s found a way to smile, laugh and be the one who lifts his family’s spirits.