Georgetown University

Paralyzed Georgetown U. Football Player Uses Gridiron Grit to Walk Again

Tyrell Williams remembers everything that happened on Sept. 5, 2015: the day he became paralyzed.

“It was either the fifth or sixth play of the game. It was, like, the 10 yard line,” Williams said.

The Georgetown University linebacker was playing in the season opener, when he put his head down for a tackle. Instead of hitting the receiver's rib cage, his head hit the player's pelvis.

Williams heard a snap and felt a tingle.

“I broke my neck at C6 vertebrae. So, that resulted in me bruising my spinal cord, which resulted in paralysis.”

Physical therapy became Williams' new normal. His new playing field.

He works with his physical therapist Katy Stewart for several hours every week, and he's made incredible strides.

“Some finger control back, my arms — I’ve got a lot of upper body strength. My core is coming back — my abs, obliques," Williams said.

Williams, 23, said he's determined to think positively and do everything he can to keep going.

“I don’t want to let the chair decide what I want to do ... I want to decide what I want to do,” he said.

His determination paid off in May, when he walked across the stage at his spring graduation ceremony.

“Life gets hard for everybody, but it’s just a matter of picking yourself back up," he said. 

Williams said he has a few more undergraduate classes to finish before he starts his master's in sports management.

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