Five years later, Kevin Everett asks, 'Am I fortunate?'

He walked on Oprah's "Day of Miracles." He was headlined on Sports Illustrated's cover, "Against All Odds." His biography was called, "Standing Tall: The Kevin Everett Story."

Only now it's five long years after the fairy-tale ending everyone heard and read about, and Everett sits in his home outside Houston, asking the question he often asks himself.

"Am I fortunate?" he asks. "You tell me. Am I?"

Five years ago, the former University of Miami tight end was carried off the Buffalo Bills field on a stretcher, paralyzed, with doctors wondering if he'd ever move again.

After a couple of weeks, some feeling came back. After five weeks, he took a step. After five years, he and his wife, Wiande, a former Miami track athlete, have two young girls with a third on the way.

And he's never tried to run again. If he ever tries to jog on a treadmill, his body drops into spasms. It spasms most days, anyway, arms and midsection and legs all twitching out of control. His right leg often drags if he's not regular with his medication.

There's also constant pain in his neck and shoulders that, after five years, he says, "I've come to some understanding about that I'm going to have the rest of my life.

"So, yes, I'm fortunate,'' he says. "And I'm unfortunate. You can't separate the two. I don't know what world people live in at times, thinking I've been completely blessed.

"My career was stripped away from me from this injury, unexpectedly. Some people think I'm supposed to be happy all the time. Put yourself in my shoes. Or put yourself in anyone's shoes who has had some life-changing injury come their way.

"Tell me how you'd feel. People don't understand that. They just want to hear the good stuff. It's kind of weird that people don't have common sense to see it's not that easy of a situation to read.

"But God let it happen for a purpose. And I know the purpose. It's to use my life as an example, to open up eyes about this injury. That's why I talk about it."

He visits Houston hospitals. He phones people suffering like he did. And he occasionally gets involved in fundraisers like the Nov. 2 dinner at Hangar No. 9 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport called, "Walking With Anthony." (Anthony Purcell was paralyzed from a swimming accident.)

Everett has a prepared speech about Sept. 9, 2007. He talks of his mindset, his challenge and, ultimately, his fate on a kickoff when he tackled Denver return man Domenik Hixon.

"I hit him and it kind of kicked my neck back,'' he said. "It didn't jack back real hard. But from the impact and the force and the pressure, my neck dislocated. There's not a more helpless feeling than that."

Click here to read the rest of sun-sentinel’s columnist Dave Hyde’s story on Kevin Everett.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus