Not everyone knew who Richard Collier was when he played for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fewer still can probably place the name today.
Collier wasn’t a household name for anything he did on an NFL field. His name was thrust into the headlines, though, when he survived multiple gunshot wounds — 14 in all — during a horrific shooting in 2008. The 6-foot-7, 345-pound Collier, then 27, was left paralyzed from the waist down and had his left leg amputated.
Collier barely survived what has been described as an ambush-style shooting and dealt with medical issues throughout a process that included 15 surgeries. Doctors said, and still say, he’ll never walk again.
He hasn’t quite done that yet, but what Collier did do recently feels like a miracle in itself: He stood at his own wedding. With the help of a brace that was strapped onto the outside of his body at the hips and extended around his legs, Collier fulfilled a promise by standing during the entire 45-minute ceremony.
It’s better told through the words of Collier himself as part of a great piece by Jim Henry of AOL Fanhouse:
“I will never let people tell me what I can’t do.
“I plan on walking again. I really do. I don’t doubt myself, I don’t put limits on myself. I wake up every day and I smile and I laugh because I’m alive. They have told me I would never walk again, but, man, I stood at my wedding the entire time. I really wanted to stand tall at my wedding, to show people this is what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half.”
“And I got to kiss my wife standing up.”
Collier goes on to explain how he has forgiven the man who shot him, and considers himself blessed. He says he doesn’t miss football, either, and enjoys public speaking and being an advocate for the disabled. It’s a good read on what Collier’s life has been like since the shooting.
Seems like we all have something we can learn from Collier.