The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand begins at Colonia


Photo Credit: Photo via wikimedia under creative commons license.

Confined to a wheelchair after a football injury, Eric LeGrand after being signed by the Buccaneers. It is not just LeGrand who believes he will walk again; The town of Colonia believes too.

By: James Lugardo, Fall Reporter

If you live in New Jersey then you know the story of Eric LeGrand, even if you’re not much of a sports fan. The story of a Rutgers football player who was paralyzed after a terrible collision on the playing field. There is tons more to his story, and Eric LeGrand makes that clear in this honest and inspiring story, The Victorious Story of Eric LeGrand.

LeGrand’s life changed in a flash on the afternoon of October 16, 2010, when he collided into a ball carrier during a kickoff return in a hard hitting game. He was trying to hit the runner with a big shoulder hit to the chest. The runner tried to spin away and LeGrand’s helmet found the runners collarbone. Eric LeGrand never got up. He suffered a catastrophic injury to his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

Before attending Rutgers University, LeGrand attended Colonia High School in Colonia, New Jersey. He wore number 32 for the Patriots when he played football for their program.

LeGrand began his biography with that afternoon in the Meadowlands. A few minutes earlier he tackled Army’s quarterback in the backfield. It was a big-time play, but it left his head woozy. He tried to get off the field for the next play, but was disoriented and headed to the wrong sideline. He realized his mistake and made his way to the Rutgers bench, but before he knew it, he was back on the field for the kickoff return. High-performing football players will do anything to stay on the field, even if they’re seeing stars. LeGrand stated, “I didn’t think twice about lining up for that kickoff.” People like Eric LeGrand, who have been high performers since grade school, will always be quick to return to the field. It’s just what they love to do. But, this afternoon LeGrand took another hit and didn’t get back up.

In this book Eric LeGrand offers more of the smaller details in his life. Like when he was a hot prospect out of Colonia High School, then-Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis paid him a personal visit. NCAA rules do not allow Weis from talking directly to LeGrand, so Weis spoke to the high-schooler’s coach, with LeGrand standing next to him.

LeGrand also goes on to talk about the Rutgers and Maryland game in 2009 as more than just another football contest.

“This was Nike versus Under Armour, If you think big businesses have not penetrated the playing fields of higher education, you haven’t been paying attention.”

When evaluating the book, I wish that this story was told more like LeGrand actually speaks. In having a cowriter assist him with writing his story, the authentic voice of LeGrand got lost at times.  I feel that if the author would’ve left it how he actually speaks we could have connected much more to the book.

The book could have been better in a sense if he expanded more on his life before the injury and how he got to that moment. I would recommend this book to any football fan that loves to hear an amazing story. Also any handicapped person looking for some motivation in their life so they will have faith they can do it. Students and residents of Colonia and the surrounding Woodbridge Township should also read about this hometown-hero. The age group I would recommend to read this would be middle school and above. It is a great book for all genre types of readers and inspirational to all.

Much of the book is positive and uplifting. Especially when LeGrand talks about his  relationship with his mother and his faith. These things really are the heart of the book. And his description of former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is especially touching. Schiano, now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spent hours upon hours at LeGrand’s bedside in the weeks following the injury. LeGrand gives us an unsparing description of what life is like for a quadriplegic, but they are sure to come away convinced that if anybody can overcome this devastating injury, it will be Eric LeGrand.