One year ago, 7-foot-6 Latter-day Saint and 1993 No. 2 NBA draft pick Shawn Bradley was hit by a car while riding his custom-made bicycle near his home in St. George, Utah. The injury left him as a C6 quadriplegic, meaning he lost sensation and function from the top of his rib cage down, including in his hands and forearms.
In a new feature story from Sports Illustrated, Bradley opens up about the challenges he now faces, the emotional toll of his new life, and what’s been required of his family.
According to the story, after his injury Bradley spent three weeks in the ICU before he was moved to a neurological rehab wing for months of therapy. The effects of his injuries were intensified by his extreme height. “His size adds a bigger complexity,” Philip Lamoreaux, Bradley’s occupational therapist, told Sports Illustrated.
Today, he uses an oversize, 500-pound electric wheelchair that took roughly three months to custom build and “costs more than most cars.”
For years before his injury, Bradley was no stranger to delicate situations. He spent a decade as a vice principal and athletic director at a school in Utah for at-risk teens. When he adopted his wife’s three kids, he helped the entire family work through various anxiety and trust issues through his “gentle giant” demeanor. But today the roles have been reversed, and he has become his family’s primary concern.
“It’s not just the person that’s involved in the accident,” his wife, Carrie, said. “It’s a domino effect. Our family has been forever changed.”
Lamoreaux also commented, “His body and his skills have been his identity. And he’s constantly faced with that part of his identity being gone. Navigating through that was really difficult for him.”
Bradley said that it’s extremely emotional and draining to have former colleagues and people he’s close with see him for the first time since the accident. He also wishes he could ease the burden on his family now, and he shared his struggles with his mental health throughout all of this change and new dependency.
“Maybe it’d be better if this was just all over. Yes, those thoughts creep in—and they’re real. I can’t ever imagine myself acting on those thoughts, but I definitely have them," he said.
But one of his neighbors in St. George recalls Bradley once asking aloud, “Why didn’t I die?” and says: “I feel like he’s determined to find out what that reason is.”
Bradley’s hope today is to one day move from his chair to his bed without assistance. The former NBA player told Sports Illustrated it’s something that’s “possible.”
Read the full article here.