High School player paralyzed, sad coincidence
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- In an instant, Adam Taliaferro flashed back six years to the day that changed his life.
Taliaferro had stopped by a football scrimmage at Eastern High in Voorhees Friday night when Shykem Lawrence, a player for Camden's Woodrow Wilson High, made a tackle and didn't get up.
It was reminiscent for Taliaferro, an Eastern graduate and Sicklerville resident, of the injury he suffered while playing for Penn State in 2000 that left him temporarily paralyzed.
"It felt kind of surreal. I couldn't believe it was happening," Taliaferro said Sunday.
Lawrence, a senior defensive back, has been left paralyzed by the injury and remains at Camden's Cooper University Hospital. The hospital, citing privacy regulations and the fact that Lawrence is a minor, did not release details about his condition. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Lawrence's injury in Sunday's editions.
Taliaferro's father, Andre, a longtime friend of Wilson coach Luther Howard, visited Lawrence in the hospital and said the 17-year-old was able to move his eyes. The elder Taliaferro has provided advice and comfort to the Lawrence family.
"I'm just giving them the benefit of what we went through to help prepare them for what they're going to hear in the next few weeks," he said. "I think that helps a lot. That helped me. The things they hear are going to be emotionally devastating. On top of that, if you're not familiar with this injury, you're not going to know what a lot of it means."
Adam Taliaferro was on his way back from the gym at Eastern High on Friday when he noticed the lights at the football field. He was sitting with friends on the sideline when Lawrence was injured.
"I always get nervous when I see anybody go down," Taliaferro said. "Then you wait for him to get up and I didn't see him moving. I was in shock. I didn't talk to anybody, just kind of stood by myself.
"I remember waking up on the field and not being able to move anything," he said, recalling his own injury. "Then it got all foggy and I couldn't remember anything after that. I hope he doesn't remember most of it."
Taliaferro was injured against Ohio State on Sept. 23, 2000. He left the hospital three months after the injury and walked onto the field at Beaver Stadium on Sept. 1, 2001, before a game for the first time since his injury.
Since then, Taliaferro graduated from Penn State and is a second-year law student at Rutgers University's Camden campus. He also created a foundation that provides educational resources and grant funding for players who sustain spinal cord injuries.
Taliaferro said he would visit Lawrence as soon as possible.
"His mom told me she wants to wait for him to come around," he said. "I told her whenever he wakes up, whenever he's ready, I'll be there."
How eery is that? Hope he get's better fast.