After 944 days, paralyzed football player Eric LeGrand finally moves back home
Eric LeGrand has not been home for 944 days. The former Rutgers football player was paralyzed after fracturing his C3-C4 vertebrae in a game against Army in 2010, and since then, he has either lived in the hospital or in a handicapped-accessible apartment with his mother since his home in Avenel, N.J. could not accommodate a wheelchair.
That 944-day streak came to an end on Friday as LeGrand moved back home, and thanks to the generosity of strangers who donated to LeGrand’s Believe Foundation to cover the costs of construction as well as to American Properties and the contractors who rebuilt a home on the lot where LeGrand grew up, the 22-year-old can live more independently than he has since injuring his spine.
For the past two years, LeGrand’s mother, Karen, had to do everything for her son including all kinds of little things most people don’t think about, like turning every knob and opening every door for him. Now, Eric and Karen will live in a home customized just for him. Doorways are wider. The floors are all hardwood and have even surfaces so he can cruise from room to room without any impediment. There is an elevator to the second floor and a track for a lift to take LeGrand from his bed to his shower without needing to use his wheelchair. The home has a therapy area so that LeGrand can keep his muscles strong and work toward his ultimate goal of being able to walk again.
It also boasts other amenities any 22-year-old would want: a big-screen TV for LeGrand and his buddies to watch the game on and a semi-private suite for LeGrand so he can live somewhat apart from his mother.
The impact that the new home will have on his life showed immediately. On Friday, as people gathered at the LeGrand’s new home to celebrate the occasion, Karen LeGrand realized she could not find her son. He eventually was found in the driveway, a place that he had never been able to get to on his own since his injury.
“I can leave without telling my mom now,” LeGrand told NJ.com. “She’s going to be chasing me down Avenel Street!”
Most mothers would not appreciate the ability to lose track of where their child was, but for Karen LeGrand, it was a moment to celebrate the fact that thanks to this new house, Eric has the freedom to sneak away from his mother on his own.