Darin Downs had the same dream that many kids do: pitch in the MLB.
Downs got the chance to work his way up to that role when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays' Double-A affiliate. However, in his second start for Montgomery, he took a line drive to the head so hard that it rebounded into his team's dugout. He suffered a concussion and lost the ability to speak.
After being rushed to the hospital, it was unclear whether he would live, but after spending three days in the Intensive Care Unit and nine more in the hospital, Downs was released.
His struggles were far from over, however, as he lost the will to play the game he loved.
"Not being able to talk and not being able to do anything other than just making noises. I slowly progressed, like a baby would."
His speech gradually returned, but the process was difficult, to say the least. And, the next few months would prove even more challenging, he said.
"It was a very tough recovery," Downs said. "Post-concussion syndrome was not my friend. I was kind of depressed and tired all the time. I just slept.
"I would tell me myself I’m not going to play again -- that I was scared to go back out there."
Downs would eventually find his way back to the mound, however, and he eventually began to feel comfortable again.
After bouncing around in the minors, Downs was signed as a minor league free agent with the Detroit Tigers.
Downs would eventually pitch late in the 2012 season, but it was Opening Day 2013 that meant the world to him.
He's worked his way back to becoming a trusted reliever, posting a 3.00 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP for the Tigers...right by his birthplace, Southland, Michigan.