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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Eric LeGrand makes his debut at One Buc Place

Eric LeGrand remains confident he’ll walk one day. But overcoming his paralysis is bound to take time, though he’s committed to the process.

In the meantime, the former Rutgers player who was paralyzed in a game two years ago and ceremoniously added to the Bucs’ roster last month will settle for helping change the lives of others.

First, LeGrand, who on Tuesday was introduced by his former coach, Bucs coach Greg Schiano, helped inspire his new teammates, speaking with Bucs players after their morning practice at One Buc Place.

Later, in his first press conference since joining the roster last month, LeGrand announced that he will be starting a charitable organization to help others in similar predicaments, an effort that will be partially funded by sales of his Bucs jersey.

“It’s going to be the Eric LeGrand Foundation,” LeGrand said. “It’s going to help spinal cord research and also help people who don’t have the right insurance or the right equipment in their recovery, all the stuff I was fortunate to have because of my insurance.”

But mostly, LeGrand used Tuesday’s session with reporters to share his gratitude for the many great experiences he’s had of late. Most are a result of the Bucs’ decision to place him on their roster, a move that came in the same year that LeGrand would have been eligible for the NFL draft.

“I’ve been playing this game since I was 5-years old,” LeGrand said. “My whole goal was to get to the NFL and be able to support my family and play the game that I love. But when that accident happened in 2010, it just stopped and I didn’t know what was going to happen.

“Laying there on the field, I didn’t know if I was going to die right there, was that going to be the end of my life. But it just shows you, good things happen to good people.”

The Bucs see the move as something of a tribute to LeGrand’s fortitude and strong will. He was, per usual, smiling throughout his visit to One Buc Place on Tuesday despite being paralyzed from the neck down.

LeGrand continues to show his resilience, not just mentally but physically. He elatedly shared that he is experiencing sensations in areas doctors told him he never would.

“I wasn’t going to let doctors tell me that this wasn’t going to happen or just a bunch of negative stuff,” he said. “I just go ahead and fight and get to where I want to get to. I always believe in Coach Schiano’s saying that where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can will stuff to happen in this world. If you believe in yourself and you believe in the man up above, anything is possible.”

LeGrand said he’s currently undergoing a type of therapy that aims to “shock” the nervous system into responding, and doctors are seeing results.

“They saw the muscle activity, when I’m trying to tell the muscle to move and there are little shocks down there,” LeGrand said. “That’s what they can’t explain because they’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s just miracles. I can’t explain it if they can’t explain it. I just say it’s me believing in God and working hard every day and being an athlete, going out there and fighting through my therapy every day.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 3:47pm]


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