Eric LeGrand, former Rutgers football player left paralyzed, sheds light on Damar Hamlin injury

Kemberly Richardson Image
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Former Rutgers football player left paralyzed discusses Hamlin injury
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Former Rutgers football player Eric Legrand speaks out on Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest and collapse Monday night. Kemberly Richardson has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after collapsing on the field during the Bills-Bengals game, a man who is no stranger to the issue of safety in football is speaking out.

Eric LeGrand was paralyzed after making a tackle for Rutgers University in 2010.

His passion for life, his big heart and his big smile are an inspiration to many. For anyone watching, seeing Hamlin collapse on field was startling, but for LeGrand, it was so much more.

"Every time I see someone go down and not move it brings me right back whether it's a concussion or spinal cord injury," LeGrand said.

ALSO READ | Damar Hamlin's toy drive tops $4 million in donations in hours after his collapse

LeGrand took to social media to offer his prayers as the chain of events on Monday night sparked a flood of emotions.

It was Oct. 16, 2010 when the defensive tackle suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury after colliding with a player, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

He said what he remembers about those moments is his trainer coming up and asking if it was his head or neck, but he couldn't breathe.

He was carted off the field and on the way to the hospital within seven minutes -- conscious the entire time.

Hamlin's injury was a different situation. He was down for 19 minutes, during which medics performed CPR to get his heart beating again.

"All of a sudden that's your brother, you think of all the hard work that goes into playing the game, the risks you take, but it's not about football anymore," LeGrand said.

LeGrand spent months in rehab and has regained some movement.

Now 32 years old, he said he wouldn't have made it without his support system, which will also be key for Hamlin.

"God willing, he has the capacity to play football again, there are going to be a lot of questions and reflection to see if that's something he would like to do again, but all that's a concern right now is his health and his wellbeing and being able to stay alive," LeGrand said.

RELATED | Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin remains in critical condition after cardiac arrest on field

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