Ryan Shazier’s ‘Walking Miracle’ Details The Ex-Steelers LB Recovery

Ryan Shazier at the 2018 NFL Draft

Image Ronald Martinez / Getty

Former Pittsburgh Steelers roader Ryan Shazier at the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26, 2018.

It’s been more than four years since last time Pittsburgh Steelers Defender Ryan Shazier injured his spine making a regular tackle during Monday Night’s Soccer game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The injury left the former first-round player (Ohio State) temporarily paralyzed from the waist down, but thanks to an active recovery, best medical care, and emotional support from the people of Pittsburgh and the NFL community In general, he passed. paralysis and find a new direction in life.

However, with a few notable exceptions — like step on the podium at the 2018 NFL Draft — much of Shazier’s journey took place outside of the public eye. Thanks to his new memoir ‘Walking Miracle’ (Grand Central Publishing), Steelers fans, Buckeye fans and other interested observers can gain a better understanding of all that Shazier has been through, before and after December 4, 2017. He recently spoke with Heavy. com about his emotionally and physically challenging journey, which began with the play that abruptly ended his NFL career.

What’s your first thought after you’ve been injured? Did you immediately realize the severity of your injury?
I don’t even think about myself that much, I think more about my wife and family. About two weeks later, I started to think, ‘Oh, Ryan, you’re worse than you thought. This is going to be a tough ride. ‘ It was difficult and I was scared, but I knew I was surrounded by people and I really believed that I could get better. I try my best to get back where I want to be.

What do you remember about the Bengals’ handling of the wideband recorder, Josh Malone?
It’s a casual game. I’ve seen that play a thousand times before, so it doesn’t seem like a difficult play to make. I’m really trying to get out of that processing situation. The point is: Josh was running a little faster than I thought, and that’s why I ended up with his head on my hip.

In the book, you discuss how you’ve come to be known for your headers, and how you’ll watch the movie of your tackles with Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler. .
I used to practice Not solve problems with my head every day. I will handle the polishing dummy fifty times after practice. It’s hard to break that habit but it’s something I used to do.

Was there a time in your recovery that you asked yourself, ‘Why me?’
I really don’t have much ‘Why me?’ moment. It’s more than that: this sucks and what’s the best way I can get through this? I understand that I have been extremely fortunate and that I have had a lot of adversities in my life that I have overcome. The approach I take when dealing with trauma is this: Let me see how I can use things from my past to help me get through this adversity.

Those challenges include developing the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata at age 5, and then being diagnosed with scoliosis in middle school, which has the potential to derail a football career. your rock. Has your neurosurgeon, Dr David Okonkwo, ever commented on whether scoliosis played a role in your injury?
My doctor says that scoliosis can be a blessing or a curse. It could prevent me from having a serious injury or it could cause me injury. At the end of the day, we don’t consider many reasons why I was injured. It’s more about ‘How can I progress?’

But some of my doctors consider my rate of recovery unique and note how often I smile during rehabilitation. A lot of people going through adversity don’t smile as much as I do.

I liked your father’s concept of “stringing the first few difficulties together” when trying to achieve a seemingly far-fetched goal – where the obstacles seem insurmountable.
Readers can apply that to their own lives. A football field is hundreds of yards long, and to score a touchdown you usually have to take a series of first hits. I did all I could to get as many first crashes as possible in my recovery. I focus on all the small steps—all the small goals—knowing that they will translate to first and then encounter.

After a while, the big moments started to come, like my wedding and a walk at the draft. Those are ground hits. But before that came all the little steps I was taking in rehab, like moving my toes and raising my knees. I know where I want to be, but it will take some time to get there.

Have you ever lost faith?
I don’t think there is anyone who has faith in God without ever doubting. Otherwise, they are liars. Obviously, I have a strong relationship with God, but sometimes your relationship with God is tested. I was able to get through, but it can be a struggle to get over the thoughts you might have and ask yourself: God, why did you choose me for this journey?

Having faith in God is simply understanding that He has a purpose and that He has a reason why He does things. You have to trust Him and believe in Him and live your best life through Him. That’s what I did. I’ve certainly had some rough nights and I’ve prayed a lot and asked God a lot of questions, but at the end of the day I continue to trust Him and thank Him for the opportunity that has allowed me to achieve this position. current position. There are so many people who have not been fortunate enough to have the same opportunities that I have been blessed with, and I thank God for those opportunities.

Tell me about the Ryan Shazier Foundation for Spinal Rehabilitation, which you Released in November 2020.
A lot of times when people have a spinal cord injury, they feel like they are alone. (The Foundation) is a peer support group but it’s also to help people have more resources and a chance to recover. And every Thursday night, I talk to a family going through a spinal cord injury and we talk about their progress and what worked for me and what might work for them. Everyone’s story is a little different and some have better minds than others. But it’s been exciting talking to all these different families about what might help them through.

Then there are 50 Phenoms, which I do with the UPMC hospital network — the network that has helped me recover from trauma. It involves talking with families who have experienced life-changing illnesses and injuries and how they overcame them to be helpful and bless people through those hardships.

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I understand that you are also engaged in a business endeavor?
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, even while I was still competing. So I started a trucking company, Shay Trucking, that moves cars around the country.

In ‘The Walking Miracle’ you talk about your admiration for current Steelers defenders like TJ Watt and Cameron Heyward. Are there any non-Steelers players that you really enjoy watching?
[Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker] Darius Leonard. He understands how to play really effectively and makes a lot of plays that help his team win.

Are you still making progress in your recovery and recovery?
I still see myself making progress. They’re not as big as they used to be, but I’m pretty happy with where I stand.

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https://heavy.com/sports/pittsburgh-steelers/ryan-shaziers-walking-miracle-details-recovery-from-spinal-cord-injury/ Ryan Shazier’s ‘Walking Miracle’ Details The Ex-Steelers LB Recovery

John Walker

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