My rehabilitation time was about ready to start. I first had to move to a step-down unit and prove that I could take a few steps. In other words, they began teaching me how to walk again. I almost laughed at the thought until I was asked to put my feet on the ground. Now, with my feet hitting the floor I saw the problem and laughed no more. Instead, I was now vomiting all over myself because of the excruciating pain shooting up my legs and down the lower half of my body. I now have a new deeper appreciation for the role our backs play in our everyday movement. It reminds me a lot of James Weldon Johnson’s children’s learning song we were taught growing up, “Dem Dry Bones”: “The neck bone is connected to the head bone … the toe bone is connected to the foot bone.” I had no idea what kind of chaos happens when the bones aren’t connected the right way!
On the bright side, some special visitors paid me a visit to encourage me. One of them was Bobby Humphrey, record-setting University of Alabama running back who went on to a four-year NFL career with the Denver Broncos before retiring in 1992. He came by with an invitation from his friend and ours, city employee Brian Davis. Brian was my friend who had gotten the ball rolling in my search from the city’s end, and he too is a University of Alabama alum and a walk-on to the football program. Along with the visit came an autographed football from ’Bama head coach Nick Saban, 1992 National Championship–winning quarterback Jay Barker, Bobby, and a 2014 blue-chip defensive back signee to The Capstone, Bobby’s son, Marlon. A lot of football talk took place in my room—a welcome diversion from the circumstances for me and everyone else in the room. I will cherish their gift like it was a million dollars.