State of Play (2013): Season 2, Episode 2 - Broken - full transcript

This intimate edition of 'State of Play' follows two men who were paralyzed playing the sports that they love. Their struggle - and that of their family - to accept a new life of physical limitations is a raw humbling portrait of endurance and love.

That's the great thing about sports,

you don't play to just play it,

you play to win.

When you start telling me
it doesn't matter then retire, get out

because it matters.

I have betrayed your trust.

Sports has become a religion.

You attend a sermon that is being
presented to you on the field,

and you can drink in
the madness of going ballistic.

Welcome to State of Play.
I'm Peter Berg.

In sports and in life, it's easy
to take every day for granted.

It's the natural thing
for athletes to do

as they continue
through their careers,

to not think twice about every time
you can catch a pass,

or run a few steps,
or even high-five a teammate,

and life's no different.

We don't give thanks every time
we walk outside to get the paper,

or simply turn over in bed.

but what happens
when something unlikely,

something catastrophic strikes?

You're about to watch a documentary

that chronicles the lives
of two quadriplegics

who were injured
playing the sport they love deeply.

It's a very personal glimpse
into their lives.

Steve Shope and his wife, Julie,

and Eric LeGrand
and his mother, Karen,

will join me to discuss the film,

the challenges they face,

and their views on the sports
that have changed their lives forever.

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''Eric LeGrand heading towards the 25.''

Here with Eric LeGrand
and the training camp,

Eric, how does it feel now
that it's done?

It was a great team bonding,
a great camp for all of us,

and I'm looking forward to the season.

We're here at the Meadowlands,
the new Giants stadium,

We're out here ready to go,

we're focused and we're going
to keep on chopping all day long.

''Lost the football.
Rutgers has got it midfield.''

''Eric LeGrand falls on the football''

''and the Scarlet Knights
force the turnover.''

There's our task master,
Mr. Steve Shope.


Check out the scenery guys,
this is slick rock.

Us East Coasters have never
seen this crazy stuff before,

we're pretty psyched.

''Love is patient. Love is kind.''

''And envies no one.''

Julie and Steve, congratulations.

- I'm so happy for you both.
- Thank you.

We wish
Julie and Steve all the happiness

and a long, happy life.

- Yeah.
- Here. Yeah. There goes the crew.

Oh, man.

Happy birthday to you.

Here we go.

Let's go.


Answer. Rich, is that you?

You heard what happened to me.

Sucks, huh?

I went off a rock, and I just didn't...

I thought I could pull it off instead of...

You know how you either bail
on the bike, or you try and...

or you try and pull it off?

So I didn't bail and that was a mistake,

and I didn't put my hands out,

my head was probably eight feet
above the ground.

I mean the rock wasn't that big,
maybe a four footer.

My head just hit the ground,
and I knew instantly I was screwed.

I have a power wheelchair

that I move with a sip and puff,
with my mouth.

When it first happened,
I couldn't move my arms or my legs,

and I actually can move
some of my arms now.

Yeah, I can lift them up
about maybe ten inches.

I sold my tallboy,
but I still have my other two bikes.

I look at them
every single day of the week.

''Sam Sante to kick off.
This is a good one.''

''Inside the five, it's Malcom Brown.''

''Oh, what a great open field hit
by Eric LeGrand,''

''who was shaken up on the play.''

''6'2, 275 pound junior
from Avenel, New Jersey,''

''Players on both teams
have taken a knee.''

''And their thoughts are with LeGrand.''

Nice! No!

Trick plays, touch down.

Get out of here.

- Go.
- Look at this.

We're doing trick plays now.

Did we started quarrel
with the quarterback?

- Chase looks fine.
- Yeah, I know. Chase is doing good.

Saints and the Seahawks might lose.

The doctors told my mom
your son fractured his C2, C4 vertebrae,

he has zero to five percent chance
of gaining any neurological function back.

Of all the stuff they told me
I would never do,

I just say,
you know, anything's possible.

let me just
keep on working and working.

''I, Julie, take you, Steve
to be my husband''

''and to have and to hold
from this day forward''

''for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,''

''in sickness and in health,''

''to love and to cherish
until we are parted by death.''

''This is my solemn vow.''

''May the peace of the Lord
be always with you.''

After I got out of the hospital,

Julie asked me if I had remembered
what I said to her.

What I told her was I'm sorry,

and I must've said that
because I realized...

because I realized
that our lives had changed.

I'm getting a cramp in my foot.

- You see the birds over there?
- I know.

- Catching air.
- They're like snowboarding on something.

Off a jump that they made.

Like a natural tendency
for some kids to want to catch air.

What's up?

There's definitely an adjustment.

There's certain things
that I just have to do that he did.

And there's only so many hours
in a day that one person has.

I don't have anyone to lean on,
on a physical level,

because he can't help me
on a physical level.

And so a lot of the burden
is on me to do everything,

you know, physical and emotional.

So, that's the hard part.

What's the matter with you?
You know better.

Stop it. No, no, we're not going
to fight the vacuum. Move.

I just hate that feeling of defeat

when somebody tells me
I can't do something, then I don't do it.

You feel disappointed in yourself.

That feeling
of letting down other people

will haunt me
for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Eric, sweetie.

- Eric.
- What?

Can you remember today
to remind me to get some more Velcro?

You know that little box that
keeps hanging off? We need Velcro.

- Sorry. I'm got my feet too.
- Yeah.

I got mine.

Stop it! Shut up!

Hey, enough.



''Yes. You're playing.''

I'm trying to go back
to the basics here, you know.

This harmonica playing
is just depressing as hell.

I mean, I'll keep at it, Julie, but...

You have to keep practicing
because you'll eventually get it.

And if you keep working with Mary,
you'll get your hand up there.

That is a slow boat to China, though,

getting my hand to be up to my mouth

because I can
get it to there no problem.

Yeah, well, you're halfway.

Before you couldn't even lift it at all.

I know.

Marty better not be waiting outside.

Oh, right. 4 o'clock?

- I told him a little after four.
- Okay.

Well, why don't you
give him a call on our way?

No, Julie.

Us guys don't do
ten thousand call like you ladies do.

- I knew that was coming.
- But can you put the harmonica thing up?

- Up in the air?
- I'm suitably depressed...

- Okay.
- With my harmonica skills.

- Do you have a little belly yet?
- Yes, for sure.

- Doesn't it suck?
- I hate it.

- I never had a belly before.
- Me neither. I had a nice little two pack.

- It sucks.
- Yeah.

Flaccid freaking white pale ass,
baby ass belly, huh?

Hairy to boot.

- I am hairy, are you?
- No.

- I'm bear.
- I'm a little higher up

- on the evolutionary scale than you are.
- Nice one.

- Yeah.
- Very well done body.

Marty has multiple sclerosis,

and for the past ten years
he's been in a wheelchair.

I suppose in one way
I'm a little better off than him

because I have room for improvement.

And with MS, he's likely to go downhill.

I'm not sure this is a healthy way
to look at people,

you should probably take
a more holistic approach,

but anyway
I always look at other people

and say whether they're
better off or worse off than me.

I think that's just natural
if you are in a wheelchair,

you look at somebody and you say,

''Huh, that poor guy,
that son of a bitch is screwed.''

Steve-o, we got a little bit
of murder ball going on over here.

- I know, right?
- These guys are smashing and crashing.

- It's cool.
- Yeah.

- Yeah, score.
- Look at that.

- I want to go over there.
- You want to play with them?

Yeah. They're freaking crazy.

I guess you can't use
this kind of chair over there.

Yeah, I know.

They all seem to have their arms.

Yeah, they do.

That looks hard what he's doing.

- Spinning around like that?
- He's so good.

- I know.
- I haven't seen him miss a shot yet.

- That's a good one, though.
- I know, and he has a lot of power.

I mean, speed with the shot.

- These kids are pretty fast.
- I know.

- What's your name?
- Steve.

Steve, I'm Doug.

- You got to get closer, Doug.
- Okay.

You use a sip and puff.

That's cool.
My friend uses a sip and puff too.

Well, I have a joystick here,
do you see it?

- Yeah.
- I just...

Julie, you want me to show,
I'll show him how I use it.

- You mind setting that up?
- Sure.

And you have
to take out the thigh brace.

I'll get the front.

These things are hard for people.

I know.

- I'll show you my thing here.
- Yeah.

I might crash into you,
but that won't be too bad.

I'll back up, you know.

Oh, that's cool. That's neat.

I'm going to try driving
for a while with the joystick.

I think that's good practice.

So what's your short term goal now?

- Short term goal?
- Yeah, let's be realistic.

Let's make up some goals
because I know what mine is.

How about joystick?

Yeah, definitely a short term goal
is to get rid of the stupid sip and puff.

- Yeah, it's annoying.
- Exactly.

I can't even do anything right now
because my sip and puff is down.

- I know.
- You can put it down.

No, but that's very important.

And I find myself
when I don't have goals,

or when I've achieved them,
whatever they may be,

and I just have a tendency
to slip back in very bad depression.

When I was first in the hospital,

I was begging Julie
to drive me to Oregon.

You hook up with a doctor,
and he injects you in the arm

- and you're done.
- I know.

And she wouldn't take me there
and I'm like,

- ''Please!''
- I wouldn't.

My argument
was I was a competent adult.

- Can't a competent adult...
- Yeah, but you haven't healed

in any way, or shape or form yet.
You have no idea.

You were still in quote, unquote,
not denial, you were pissed.

- You were medicated like woo-hoo too.
- I was... No!

- Yes, you were.
- Julie,

I was smart enough to realize that
I was going to be a burden on her

for the rest of my days
and I didn't want to be that burden.

I understand.

- It's the worst.
- It had nothing to do with the drugs.

This was after I was out
of the ICU, you know.

- All right.
- I wasn't talking that way in the ICU.

- Yes, you were.
- Well, whatever.

Can I have a hit of beer.

Eric, you're not singing this song,

you're singing your songs,
and it sounds horrible.

I got one song on the radio,
you got another song in your head,

and you're going to sing.

I'd rather listen to the radio
than your voice.

Oh, Lord.

Boss man, what's happening?

- See you around.
- All right dog.




Branco nation.

I believe I can do a lot
even though I'm in this wheelchair.

You throw something at me,

I'm going to give it my best shot.

I'm going to go out there and do it,
and you know the rest.

Just got to put in God's hands and wait
until that miracle happens

where they find a cure for paralysis,

or my stubbornness wills myself
to get out of this chair and walk again.

Still got over brow, ma. Come on.

Oh, okay. I thought you were leaving.
I didn't know.

- Okay. I was like, you know.
- No. No.

You just came and took over.
You didn't ask no questions.

I did.

I did. I saw them fixing you,
and I'm like, ''Oh, no, I got to do this.''

Me and my mum butt heads
about 150 times a day

about every little thing possible.

When you are together so much,
you are going to go at it.

We butt heads all the time,
but at the end of the day,

or at the end of an argument
I should say,

we know what this is,
we're in for the long run.

I loved watching Eric play.

People used to make fun of me
in Pop Warner

because when he was running
for a touchdown,

I would be running along the side-lines
going, ''Go, go, go.''

right along with him
as he was running down the field.

''Eric LeGrand.''

In college,
I couldn't travel all the time.

but I wouldn't go on vacations.

Whatever money that
I was going to go on vacation with,

I used that to travel to as many
away games as I possibly could

because I loved it.

Wish me luck at this.

These things have to be
lined up just straight.

- Got it?
- I think so. I got one anyway.

I just got to get one tight
to hold it on there.

All right.

I've got to figure out
what I'm going to make for dinner.

could I have that Cleansinal, please?


And we'll do your idea where you
put it like inside the range with a...

- Wow! Did I hurt your teeth?
- No.

- Sorry.
- That's okay.

Let me tilt my head back
and then it'll be out of range.

That was probably my fault.


- This is a bad idea to do it on the bike.
- No, it's not. My head's way back.

We can do this, Kelsey. It's a challenge.

Come on.

Now see? I'm holding my head back, and
you're not putting the beer to my head.


Put it to my head, please.

There we go. Thanks.

I know it's stressful
being with me, isn't it?

B.C., before chair.

It's like weird to think
about you walking now.

It hasn't even been, what, end of...

Well, I'm glad it doesn't bother
you guys too much

because I've got to find
a new normal, so...

Well, dad, don't worry.
You don't have to go to my graduation.

- So that's one less stress.
- What do you mean?

- December?
- I don't think you should walk

- if you haven't finish all your classes.
- No, in May.

You're not graduated.

You've got to go back
to the next semester to classes.

- Right?
- So, graduation is when you leave.

You know?

Oh, Kelse.

I hurt Kelsey's feelings by accident.

No kidding.

I knew the minute I said it
I shouldn't have said anything.

You've got to learn to know
when to not say something.

- Hey, Kelse.
- What?

Can you give me a hug?


- You know I'm proud of you, right?
- I know. It's frustrating.

- What is?
- Every thing.

Oh, man.

Your accident, school,
just everything, grades.

But the good news
is you're doing really well in school.

I know,
I'm just... everything's building up.

I know.

Well, it's okay.

That's part of growing up, Kelse.

Father God, we thank you, God.

We thank you for this family, O God.

We thank you
that it's a joy to be here, O God.

We love you, O God, for what
you are doing to us, O God,

and all you're doing through us, Lord.

O God, we ask that you bless
everything here, O God.

Bless this meal,
bless the people, O God,

bless this family, O God.

And we love you, Lord.
It's in Jesus name we pray, Amen.


I always say I have
a special relationship with God.

I really believe in him
and I believe in myself.

This happened for a reason.

And I say my prayer
every single night.

If you think about it since my injury,

there's been so many great things
that have happened in my life,

and I'm just so thankful.

Until that day, I get up and walk again,

I just know that he's the one up there
that's doing this.

You caught it?

Look at yourself.

- Who's winning?
- We're winning.

- Yeah.
- See that one with the white socks on?

- What number is he?
- Three.

- Right there.
- Oh, I see him. I see him.

He's got the all black
with the white socks on.

Here you go.

Football has made me
who I am today,

so I have no remorse towards the game.

Just because an injury happened,

I knew the risks that I was taking
going out there on the field.

I knew that risk.
It says it right on our helmets.

People ask me, ''Would you go out
there if you could right now and play?''

If I was in the same shape I was

when I got hurt
three and a half, four years ago,

I would not mind throwing on
that helmet again,

and running down on that field
to make a kickoff.

I love the game of football.

Just to the person I am.

I miss it every single day.

- Oh, there we go.
- Let's go, Aron.

Let's go, Aron. Let's go, Aron.

Go. Go. Go.

You saw that?
Someone got taken out.

I saw go sliding.

Somebody went sliding.

I'm never coming
to Hampshire ever again.

I'm leaving and I'm never coming back.

- Mom!
- Watch out.

- It's coming.
- I'm on this side.

All right, move out of there.


Do you have the keys on you?

Of course I do.

Can I have them?
Get this thing out of here.

They say that
there's the five stages of grief,

and one of them is acceptance.

I think it applies to being a quadriplegic.

Sure no one's died,

but you go through
those similar stages of denial,

bargaining, and then
there's this stage of acceptance.

I think it's important
to get to the acceptance stage.

And there's nothing wrong
with saying, ''Hey, this is the new me.''

All that effort and we're
making you go back down again.

- That's okay.
- No time to rest.

I can't even tell you
how good this feels.

Oh, yeah.

- How's that feel?
- Unbelievable.

I mean, I'm comfortable,
but we need to get back to work.

- Too low?
- No. Good, he's got it.

- That's right.
- I'm trying to lift my arm over the pillow.

- I'm not going to help.
- Okay.

- You've got it. You can do this.
- I'm going to push.

There you go.
Yeah, now, push off your left.

- Left?
- Yeah, push off that one

and that will help that right.

There you go. Oh, it's almost there.

Get it on. If you can get it on
your thigh brace, that'll be one step.

Oh, yeah.

You're almost there.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, come on.


There you go. Lift it up there.

- Oh, you're so close.
- I know it.

You have it. Breathe.

- I got it.
- Look at that. You got it halfway.

- Yeah.
- Now hold it there.

Now you have
to get over the Everest pillow

that you're lifting up on one side.

I'm going to put this one here because
otherwise you're going to make it impossible.

Oh, so close.

Okay, I got it.
I'm going to do the swing method.

Yeah, swing it up there.


Yup, now you have
to pull it towards you.

I'm trying.

- Nice.
- It's sticky.

- Yeah, it is. That pillow is sticky.
- I know. That pillow isn't very nice.

Suede pillow case.

- And the Velcro's probably sticking.
- I know it, man.

I think you can do it.
I'm not going to help.

- I think you got it.
- I'm going to walk it back.

There you go.
Yup, there you go.

- Look at that. I got about half an inch.
- There you go. Use your core.

Back and forth. Forth.

I'm not doing anything
except keeping you from tipping over.

- Okay, now you've to work on...
- I got it.

Getting those shoulder blades back,

cracking that walnut.

Good. Nice.

look at where you got your hands,
all the way from down there.

Now I'm worried I'm going
to push the pillow forward, but...

- No, you're good. I got the pillow.
- Okay.

I want you to think about using
your shoulder blades and pulling back.

There you go. Head up. No turtles.

Nice, Steve. Good job. Good job.

Get up there.

Back up there.

- Little bit.
- We're not doing 20 of there, are we?

Ah, 30.

That was two. You have ten.


Be a long morning.

Broke his nose I think
last year or something.


- Hello.
- That's how you feeling today?

- What's up, bro?
- What's up, dog?

- Whatchamacallit.
- What?

We're not allowed to rock sneakers.

- How was that?
- Stop!

Are you kidding me?
Are we wearing the same fucking shirt?

No, no. He has black in his.

Yeah, huge difference, right?

- Somebody's got to change.
- It ain't me.

- It's Friday night, kid.
- Yeah.

Good times, good times.

- Good night.
- What's going on, man?

- Damn, it's cold.
- What?

My friends, you know,
they've been tremendous.

I love hanging out with them.

When we go out,
E, what are we doing?

People look at me for that stuff,

take on that role.

Clear the way. Clear the way, please.

We go out,
everyone starts dancing around,

we have a few shots, have a few beers.

We live it up to the fullest.

I believe as they see me,

they have a new appreciation of life.

Settle down? I don't know.

My life is a little bit different
than most people, you know,

I need a little bit more
taking care of, and handling

than most people for the time being.

I get back on my feet, but...

if I could find somebody
willing to go through it with me,

that would be great,

if not, go out, have fun.

I got my boys to party with.

I think this garage thing
is going to work out just fine.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Plus the more bodies you
throw in here, the more heat you get,


I meet guys that don't
have a group of guy friends.

I can't even imagine
what it would be like.

We have a name for ourselves,

it's called
the Greater Newfield's All Dirt Society.


We all had mountain biking
as the common thread.

They have been incredibly supportive.

The entire time I was in the hospital,

one of them would spend
every night with me

for nine weeks.


That will be good.

Sounding good, Steve-o.

''Yeah, mom.''

''Arms ain't quite what they used to be.''

''My legs are still behind in.''

''My tongue ain't never sing better.''

''And I've said...''

Good one. You're a hit.

- All right!
- Well done.

- There you go.
- Let's hear it again, Steve.

That was good.

It's going to sound corny,
but how you stay in the game

is with the help of your friends
and your family.

That's how you stay in the game.

Once I'm tapped out
and I feel like giving up,

what keeps me going is Julie,

and my friends, no question about it.

And with Julie, I don't want
to disappoint her, believe it or not.

You know,
she has very high expectations.

Thank you.

- I love you.
- I love you too.

Yo, can you go get
some paper towels and water,

to wipe the lipstick off his face.

The only way to stay in the game,

you lean on your support system,

you lean on the people
that are helping you.

That's what keeps me going
when I'm out the game, when I'm down.

And you think about the people
that aren't as fortunate as you.

I see it all the time, the people
that wish they had my support system.

I really do appreciate that,
and I understand that.

One, two, three.

Grab him down.

On count of three. One, two, three.

- No, down.
- Yeah.


That's all you need?

Every time I dream,
I'm never in the wheelchair,

which I'm very happy about.

I'm always walking doing something.

Sometimes I feel like I have limitations,
like I walk up to a stairs

I'm like,
''Can I walk up these stairs right now?''

Or if I go on like grab the drink,

''Can I pour myself this drink right now?''

I have limitations in my head,
but I'm never in a wheelchair.

I'm always up walking.

I feel that there's a deeper component
to our relationship

that I didn't know was there before.

And I just have fallen in love
with him all over again.

It doesn't matter that we can't have
a physical relationship right now,

you know, on the same kind of level
that a husband and wife do,

but I still feel a connection regardless.

And I'm fulfilled on a different level
and in a different way.

It's going to sound crazy,
but I'm happy, you know.

Sure I was in that dark place.

I feel that I'm way too strong,
you know what I'm saying?

My love of life, my love of Julie,

my love of my kids,

my love of the outdoors,

I definitely have that will to survive.

And I definitely have that will
to get stronger.

There's no question about it.

I'm joined now by Steve Shope
and his wife Julie,

and Eric LeGrand
and his mom, Karen.

- Thanks guys for being here.
- Absolutely.

- Thanks for having us.
- Thanks for having us.

First, I want to thank you
for letting us into your lives.

It's been inspiring for everyone
on our side to meet you,

and to see
your courage and your strength,

and the bonds that
have kept you together. Thank you.

I want to start by going back
to the actual time of your injuries.

What do you remember from that day?

What do I remember?
Well, I remember

we were going to be going with a bunch
of friends of ours down to Boston

to see a concert.

And it was
a really nice Friday afternoon,

so Steve and his buddy
went out for a bike ride,

and I said,
''Oh, I think I'll go out for a ride too''

''just to get some exercise
before we head down to Boston.''

So I was riding my bike home

on the road
and I was close to home

and I heard this fire toners go off,
the sirens for our town.

And Steve being a volunteer fireman,

I said, ''Oh, he's going
to be bummed he missed the fire call.''

Little did I know it was him.

So I rode home
and I was a sweaty mess,

and again, knock at the door,

and it was our good friend
Brian McCoy

and he said, ''Your husband's been
in an accident, you need to come now.''

- You were still out on the road?
- He was on the road

and so then they brought us
to a smaller road

where there was a little helicopter.
And I saw him,

and he goes, ''I'm really sorry.''

And I said, ''You just didn't want to go
dancing with me tonight, is that it?''

Did you understand
that he had hurt his neck then?

I didn't know the absolute extend of it,

but I knew it was bad just by the way
he was talking to me about it.

what do you remember from that?

I remember instantly
that I was paralyzed.


But what I remember about
the actual accident

was, so I was riding my bike off
sort of a little bit of a stunt.

It was just an afternoon ride,
no big deal,

and I though I would jump off it.

And I didn't go fast enough.

And then I just nose-dove down,

and hit my head. And then
I remember the EMT's coming,

didn't seem to take them all that long.

And I was perfectly talking to them,

and was telling them,
''Oh, no, you want to go this way.''

Then I remember meeting Julie,

and that was really tough.

And again, the reason
I said I was sorry

is I knew that this was going to change.

- You knew right in that moment?
- Yeah, absolutely.

And what does that feel,
like, that moment of...

- knowing?
- I thought I let her down.

Will you tell us about your experience
in that play, and right afterwards?

During that game,
it was very emotional

since we just tied the game up
17/17 in the fourth quarter,

there was only five minutes left,

and you know, we've been battling
back and forth the whole game,

so I wanted to make a big play
for the team,

and I'm thinking
as I'm getting closer and closer

that it's going to be a head on shot,
so I just put my head down,

and his shoulder blade ended up
hitting the crown of my head.

And instantly it's just
like a flash grenade went off,

and I was laying there on the ground
like, ''What just happened?''

I'm trying to move, trying to get back up
to celebrate with my team

because I knew it was a big hit
by the sound of it.

And when I couldn't breathe, that was
probably the scariest part about it.

I freaked out so much
I believe I passed out,

and then I really remember bits
and pieces from the next few days.

Had you ever thought about the possibility
that he could suffer an injury that severe

- when he was playing football?
- No. I didn't worry about him being injured.

I knew he was doing
something that he loved,

and I know he couldn't worry
about being hurt

because that would hamper his...
he would get hurt.

If you play a sport,
and you're worrying about getting hurt,

you're going to hurt yourself.

Did you ever think of Steve getting hurt?

I never thought about it on the bike.

He would go kayak surfing
at the beach by himself sometimes,

and it would be getting dark,
and I'd be like, ''Where is he?''

That's what I was more worried about.

Yeah, and I can say riding the bikes
the way we did,

people were always getting hurt,
you know,

- you break a collar bone or something.
- Like a leg. Exactly.

But I never thought,
ever about paralysis. In fact,

- I didn't have a lot of familiarity with it.
- Same here.

One of the things
that I think I certainly got from my time

spent at both of your guys homes,
was the courage that I was seeing.

I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit
about what are the good moments now,

and what are the frustrating moments?

For me, I'm only 16 months into this,

so I don't quite have the perspective
that Eric has at four years.

But I have a sense of it

because I've just started feeling better.

You know, the first year sucked.

I don't know about you,
but that first 12 months was horrible.

Yeah, the first 12 months for me,
first getting healthy,

so I was going through
a bunch of infections,

trying to get off of a ventilator,

- going to rehab for five months.
- Yeah.

You know, it was a big adjustment
but a lot of people were behind me,

so I kind of took that as a responsibility,
like, I can't get down on myself.

So that's how I took it,
and I still do to this day.

Yeah, and I had a similar experience,

but with a much smaller crowd.

I was just blown away with

how people came out of the woodwork,
so to speak,

people that I didn't even know.

And in the beginning there were times
where I was like,

''How am I going to get through all this?''

And then I say,
''Well, I don't have a choice.''

- Exactly.
- These people expect me to pick myself up

and I'm going to do it. Yeah.

If everyone's doing all this for you,
how can I just...

- Yeah, how can I be so selfish?
- Lay around and give up?

Eric was so upbeat from day one

that I really couldn't be down.

I'm not going to be down when
he's telling me that it's going to be okay.

I mean, he had nine hours of surgery.

And he opened his eye
when I walked into ICU

and he said, he didn't say
because he couldn't even talk,

he mouthed, ''I'll be back.''

And once he did that,
it just told me he's fighting,

- he's not giving up, I can't give up.
- That's a great attitude.

What would you guys say to people
that come into contact with you,

whether it's friends,
olds friends, or new friends,

and they don't quite know
what to do or say?

What do we not understand
about what's going on?

I think it's okay to feel awkward,

you know, because people don't encounter
somebody who's paralyzed that often,

you know. And he'll say to them,
''Shake my hand, it's okay.''

I want people to shake my hand,

I don't want them to just touch me
like I'm going to break. Yeah.

- Exactly.
- I get the handshake all the time,

and I'm just like, ''Touch it, go ahead.
You can pick it up yourself.''

People are always like,
''I'm so sorry.'' And I'm like, ''It's fin.''

I think
if people would just be themselves.

Basically, he's the same person.
He's just in a chair.

- Nothing else has changed about him.
- Yeah.

He's the same person he was
before he was injured.

You guys both
have extraordinary groups of friends,

and we see this in the film,
like in your garage

drinking a lot of beer,
playing a lot of music.

And you, obviously, are like
the king of the nightclub scene.

How much do your friends mean to you?

And how did you end up
with such great groups of friends?

I kind of got lucky.

Honestly we all congregated around
mountain biking, that's how we met.

When I was in the hospital
for the first seven weeks,

- they were with me 24 hours a day.
- Your friends?

- Yeah.
- So he won't be alone.

I did not like to be by myself
in the beginning because I couldn't move,

I couldn't take care of... I felt vulnerable.

Yeah. I did not want to be alone,
especially at night.

- You're vulnerable because you can't move.
- Exactly.

And they 'd say, oh just...
I remember they downgraded him

- from ICU... Yeah.
- ''Hit the little thing.''

I'm like,
''I can barely turn my neck right now,''

''you want me to reach
this little cowbell thing?''

I finagled my way with the nurses

so that I had somebody staying
in the room with me

at least while she was
getting a few hours of sleep.

I'm glad he did that because
it was tough, I wasn't sleeping at first,

at the first, what, two, three nights.

I didn't sleep at all.
He wouldn't let me leave.

And I realized if I'm going to pass out,
how am I going to help him?

I had my friends there,
my girlfriend at the time,

she would come during...
like I said, everyone was there

during the day, it was just the night-time,
the terrors of the night.

I actually have dreams,
I don't know if you've had these,

where I think someone's in the room,
and they can help me,

other than Julie,
because I don't want to bother her,

and I'll open my eyes and I'll be like,

''Can I get...''

And there's no one there, and I'll be like,

''Oh, damn,
I actually had like a day dream.''

I have. That's funny.

I've had dreams, actual dreams
that somebody's in the room

like I remember if I have an itch,

- and I'm sleeping, and I can feel it.
- Yeah.

And I'm like,
''I know I want to call her, but I'm not.''

I'm thinking
somebody else was here earlier.

- Exactly.
- And I'll say it in my head,

but not out loud,
and then I'll wake up and I'm just like...

- That's when you call.
- That's when I'm awake.

- It's so disappointing.
- Yeah. Mom.

So that's having an itch
that you literally can't scratch.

- That's the worst thing. Yeah.
- The worst?

- Pretty much. It's bad.
- It's like an agreement.

I might me the itchiest person I know.

- I got eczema.
- He's got dry skin.

I got dry skin. So my hair,

- this is going off my cheek.
- And he always itches.

behind my ears.
Something is always going.

You are itchy right now
just talking about it.

I'm itching.

- Are you itching, or are you okay?
- No, I'm okay right now.

Nobody start yawning
because I'll start yawning.

Do you have dreams now
that you're walking? What is it?

Well, I wouldn't say I'm walking.
My dreams are I'm able bodied.

- You said yours are always able bodied.
- I'm always up walking.

And then say I'm walking,
and then I come up to a stairs,

I'm just like,
''Wait, I can't walk up these stairs.''

- But I'm not in a wheel chair.
- Me neither.

- I'm not in a wheel chair.
- I'm not in a wheel chair. Yeah.

I want to talk to the ladies maybe a bit.

You guys are obviously part of this,

what do people not know
about what it's like

to be married to someone
who's experienced this kind of injury?

I don't think people can understand
what my life is like

from the time I wake up till the time
I finally get to put my head on the pillow.

There's a lot to it, between just the
caregiving portion of it, and I have help,

but there's still aspects of it
that I need to do myself.

It's just like the floor is a mess,
but I don't have time to clean up the floor

because I have to go get work done.

And I have to get up in the middle
of the night right now to cath Steve

because he's had
some urinary tract infections.

And so we're trying to keep that
from coming back.

you don't get right back to sleep

because you've gotten up
and you've physically done stuff.

And then you go back to bed,
and then the alarm goes off,

and you've got to hit the ground running.

Karen, how about you? Is there
something that your friends don't know

or they don't get?

Well, I'm sure
there's a lot that they don't know.

and they don't get,
and not because they don't want to,

just because they don't understand.

You know, spinal cord injury,
there's so many secondary conditions

that you have to deal with,

the bladder control,
you know, the cathing,

the bowel programs, okay?

The temperature regulation,
the high blood pressure.

So many things that go on with the body
that nobody really knows.

But also, you know, he's just so busy.

He has speaking engagements,
which I take him to,

he visits schools that he speaks to kids,
which I take him to,

so I'm all over the place.
I'm all over the place,

and still I'm getting up with him
all night long.

When do you feel
the furthest away from the injury?

What makes you happy
right now at this point?

Sleeping. It kind of sounds silly,
but going to bed is just wonderful

because then
I don't think about it for eight hours.

The second thing
is when I'm busy at my work,

I don't think about being paralyzed.

So that's kind of nice.
You know, I can really get involved in it,

and I just forget about it.

And then the third thing is even sillier,

I've gotten into birds lately,

and we have bird feeders
and hummingbird feeders,

- and I know that sounds stupid, but...
- No, it doesn't.

- But I love it.
- I actually want her to get a fish tank

- so I could do...
- I have a fish tank too.

- I want to get involved, I want a big fish.
- Yeah, watch my fish.

Exactly. She doesn't understand it.

You have to realize I have a Rottweiler
I have to take care of.

I have to walk him,
pick up the big poops,

- feed him, I have to take care of him.
- That's right.

I don't need anything else
to take care of right now.

I totally understand
where you're coming from.

But Eric, what about you?
When are you, you know,

and I know you love football,
so I'm not going to let you say football,

- that doesn't count. I know.
- Absolutely not.

And I'm not going to get into football.

When do you find yourself just straight up,
not thinking about the injury,

happy, at peace, content?

So honestly when I'm not at home,
when I'm out with my friends, you know,

when I'm out, we go to concerts,

we go out to dinner,
w go to different events,

when we take a trip to Vegas

and my mom stays home,
but I bring my nurses,

but I still feel like I'm away,
living the life that I want to live.

And that's what gives me
that peace of mind, you know,

that I can live this life.

Do you guys sense that you are
an inspiration to everybody else?

- Do you feel that?
- No, and I don't agree with it.

I just got hurt by accident.

I think that if they're
going to have a role model

like that they ought to look up to a soldier
that got hurt or something like that.

I really do. I don't think just
getting hurt in a mountain bike accident

is any reason
to be treated any differently.

I don't think it's the accident, I think
it's how you handle it after the accident

- that's what makes you a role model.
- Okay. Well, I'll buy it that way.

That's what I find very inspiring.

Julie, are there aspects of Steve

that have been revealed
after the accident that's changed

I think he is more sensitive to me
and my need than he used to be.

Yeah, I might have been
a little selfish before.

I mean, I was very much interested
in doing a lot of biking,

a lot of surfing, and stuff like that.

Yeah, I think she's absolutely right.

One thing is for sure is we're
closer now than we've ever been.

And, you know,
if there's an upshot from it, that's it.

It's a surprising upshot for me,
but I'll take it.

How about you guys?

Well, as a mom,
I never knew how strong Eric was.

I knew he was stubborn,
I always knew he was stubborn.

He's been stubborn since he was five,

so the stubbornness I knew was there,

but just the strength and the fight.

I knew it was there, I just didn't knew
how much strength he had

and how much fight he had.

Eric, what have you learned
about your mom

that you didn't realize
before you were hurt?

I never realized how fast
she could put things behind her.

Like when we get into arguments,
heated battles,

and same with me, five minutes later,
I'm fine and she's fine.

And we could
be talking about the next thing.

I don't have a choice, you know.
He's my 24-year-old son,

and I'm going to have these issues
if he's in this wheelchair

or if he's not in this wheelchair.

I'm still dealing with the same things
that I would be dealing with

if Eric wasn't hurt
only because he's the same person.

What are your guys short term goals?

What do you hope to accomplish
in the next month, the next year?

Well, I just want to get any function
back to my hands, my arms,

so I can scratch myself on my own,
I can feed myself on my own,

and if I could take care of myself,
get these arms functioning,

if I can just snap my fingers or whatever
I need to do to get them beck,

that's what I would want first
so I can be able to take care of myself,

and feed myself,

do a lot of regular stuff I need to do,
and be able to live on my own.

Steve, what about you?
What are you short term goals now?

I mean, I've accomplished a lot
of my short term goals,

one of which was
I wanted to get back to work,

and I've done that.

I'd love to say I'll be back bilking
someday, but, that is a goal,

but realistically...

you know,

I've some realistic understanding of what
the odds are of me obtaining that ever.

But, you know, I don't know
if I answered the question.

This is a sports show,
and you guys are athletes,

you're both very, very good athletes,

and sports were clearly
a very large part of your lives

and your character,

and I guess
I'm wondering from both of you

how you feel that your
competitive athletic warrior spirits

have helped you, or not helped you,

as you try and navigate
your way through this recovery.

I think it's definitely helped.

And I have always had a strong drive
to improve myself and to be better.

I think some of that might've been
because I was the younger brother,

and I was always trying
to keep up with my older brother.

I think that's where
I got some of that from.

And Eric, how about you?
You are an incredible athlete.

How has that athletic mind set helped you?

It keeps me focused when I go to therapy
the days when you just don't want to go,

you don't want to do this anymore.

And I've been... many days
where I've been playing football

and when we have to go to workouts
or training sessions,

but you're just like, ''Damn,
I don't feel like doing this at all.''

''I just want to lay in bed right now.''

I say that with therapy
when I want to work my butt off in there,

how can I give up on this
when I have my mom

who's working her butt off for me,
my family who's looking up to me,

all these who are looking up to me.

This is what I at least owe them
my hard work, and my work ethic,

and this is what I've learned to do my
whole life playing the game of football,

and just being an athlete, you know,

most of the time you're doing stuff
you don't want to do.

But in the end, you find the goals
when you win those games,

the successes, going to the next level.

So the success when it comes to this is,

the little things that have returned
for me, to have come back,

coming off the ventilator,
eating solid foods,

being able to lift up my arm now,

move around my trunk more,
stuff like that.

Those are my victories right there,

just inspiring the world
as I continue to go on through my life.

So being an athlete definitely helped me
keep the right mind set,

controlling what I can control.

I want to thank you for coming
and sharing your lives with us,

and letting us into your homes.

Your stories have touched us all
very, very deeply,

and you're inspirational whether you
want to be inspirational, Steve, or not,

you're very, very inspirational.

So thank you for watching.

Eric, why don't you get us out of here?

- Peace out, ya'll.
- Peace out, ya'll.

Thanks, guys.