Eric LeGrand partners with IMG to turn tragedy into opportunity

NOTE: This story was written by Kristian Dyer.

One moment with Eric LeGrand and his smile, as wide as they come, is sure to burst out.

LeGrand, a former Rutgers defensive tackle, who would have been completing his senior year this spring and perhaps even readying himself for the NFL Draft, is working with an agent to help him transition to the broadcasting booth. LeGrand is undeterred by the tragedy that left him in a wheelchair and unable to walk; he is making lemonade out of lemons.

His story is poignant and unforgettable. On Oct. 16, 2010, as part of the Rutgers football team, LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after engaging in a head-on collision during a kickoff in the third quarter of a game against Army. LeGrand was stretchered off the MetLife Stadium field, his tragic story making headlines and earning national attention. His courageous battle to walk again earned him the cover shot for Sports Illustrated as the year's best moment. LeGrand, in a motorized wheelchair, led the Scarlet Knights out of the tunnel of a snow-swept game prior to a home loss to West Virginia.

Last week, LeGrand officially partnered with famed sports marketing company IMG. The company will help him as he embarks on his broadcasting career.

"They didn't do anything with me so far while I was on the football roster so there'd be no violations," LeGrand told Yahoo! Sports. "I've got my book deal with Harper Collins Publishing in New York. That should be coming out at the end of August or September. And I also will be working on my broadcasting. but I can't get paid yet until I get my degree.

"I've already met with ESPN through IMG, so I'm hoping when I graduate the summer of next year that I'll be working somewhere next fall. Also through IMG, I will be doing some motivational speaking, traveling the country."

LeGrand is planning to graduate next fall with a degree in labor studies and until then is unable accept compensation for his current broadcasting work, which this fall will include co-hosting the weekly Rutgers football radio show with broadcaster Chris Carlin. There also are possibilities to continue his analysis work with SportsNet New York, which serves as the tri-state area's broadcast home for Big East sports.

LeGrand says his IMG relationship, including partnering with IMG's Senior Vice President Sandy Montag, as something the management firm is doing "out of the kindness of their hearts."

"We haven't really worked out the logistics of how long and money-wise a deal would be because I don't have my degree, but when I have my degree, that's when we work out money and percentages," LeGrand said.

"Right now, Sandy is doing this out of the kindness of his heart to get my career started. Later on, with my degree then we can talk about all that stuff."

But beyond the growing broadcasting career, LeGrand hopes his motivational speaking tour will one day be done on his own two feet. He's completed 75 treadmill sessions at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and has progressed well. He continues to use the arm bike and rehab on his own at home in addition to three weekly sessions at a New Jersey rehabilitation facility.

He sat up for 15 minutes on March 27, a new personal record.

"I keep working and things keep getting better, I keep doing better," LeGrand said.

"One day I will walk again, I believe that."

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