In 2008, 27-year-old Jacksonville Jaguars lineman Richard Collier(notes) was shot six times in a premeditated attempt on his life. The attack left him paralyzed and required the amputation of his left leg. Doctors told him he wouldn't walk again.
Collier's still working on proving doctors wrong on that, but in the meantime, he set another short-term goal for himself: to stand at his wedding.
He made it happen. With the help of his prosthetic leg and a specially-designed brace that was strapped onto the outside of his body at the hips and extended around the legs, he stood with his wife through the entire 45-minute ceremony (He says he can manipulate slight movement in leg and limb during therapy sessions and has walked up to 100 steps in his brace).
Here's a quote from Collier, from this wonderful piece by Jim Henry at the FanHouse about Collier's life since the shooting.
"I wake up every day and I smile and I laugh because I'm alive. They have told me I would never walk again, but, man, I stood at my wedding the entire time. I really wanted to stand tall at my wedding, to show people this is what I've been doing for the last year and a half.
"And I got to kiss my wife standing up."
Collier says he doesn't miss football, but he does root for the Jaguars on Sundays. He spends his time now working out at a rehab hospital, giving motivational speeches and reaching out to other people with disabilities whenever he can. He refuses to let the shooting define him, and he doesn't want you to feel sorry for him, either. He loves his life.
Collier stands as an example that staying positive, even in the face of something as horrific as being shot six times, can change everything. It's tragic, what was taken from him, but the forgiveness and love he found within himself allowed him to turn the tragedy into an opportunity to inspire. We can all learn something from that.
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