Reggie Garrett Collapses: Texas High School QB Latest On-Field Tragedy

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2010

Reggie Garrett Collapses: Texas High School QB Latest On-Field Tragedy

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    Friday night lights.

    Those three words are synonymous with high school football for several states around the country. In Texas, high school football is a way of life, as is football in general.

    In some small towns, they shut down early just to make sure they're at the game, supporting their local teams.

    For one town, it became a nightmare.

    In Orange, Texas, West Orange-Stark senior quarterback Reggie Garrett had walked to the sidelines after throwing his second touchdown pass of the night against Jasper.

    All of the sudden, Garrett collapsed. Dan Hooks, Garrett's head coach, told the Huffington Post that it appeared Garrett had a seizure.

    As the senior was loaded in the ambulance, fans clapped and shouted encouragement towards the young quarterback, praying for an outcome that, unfortunately, never came.

    At 9:30pm, Garrett was pronounced dead at Memorial Hermann Baptist-Orange Hospital.

    This is a story that no one wants to see. It's a story we don't want to read about. It's a story that makes us pray that much harder for his family, keeping them in our thoughts as they deal with a tragedy and search for an answer.

    Garrett, and his family, aren't the only ones who have suffered a tragedy like this one. We've become all too familiar with this kind of a story, and this kind of an ending.

    However, there are flip sides to a story like this. There are players who have beaten the odds, who were supposed to have been paralyzed for the remainder of their lives,  but rose and walked again.

    Here's a list of 10 players who have suffered an incredible tragedy and have either beaten the odds, or the odds got the best of them.

Hank Gathers

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    1989:  Forward Hank Gathers of the Loyola-Marymount Lions poses for a picture. Mandatory Credit: Tim de Frisco  /Allsport
    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    When I first started compiling this list, the first player that came to my mind was standout basketball player Hank Gathers from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

    Gathers wasn't always at LMU. In fact, he and Bo Kimble both transferred from USC after the 1985-86 season after head coach Stan Morrison was fired.

    During the 1988-89 season, Gathers became just the second player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring and rebounding in the same season.

    Gathers first collapse came during a game on December 9, 1989 while he was on the free throw line. It was discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat and was put on a beta-blocker.

    He apparently thought the medication affected his performance on the court and cut back on the dosage.

    Gathers collapsed again, also during a game, on March 4, 1990 and was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. He was 23-years old.

Dennis Byrd

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    3 Nov 1991:  Defensive lineman Dennis Byrd of the New York Jets looks on during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  The Jets won the game, 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Another famous story, and one that had an opposite ending to that of Gathers, is former New York Jets' lineman Dennis Byrd.

    A standout defensive lineman at the University of Tulsa, Byrd was drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft.

    On November 29, 1992, Byrd was going in for a sack of Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback Dave Krieg. Krieg stepped forward to evade him which caused Byrd to collide with teammate Scott Mersereau.

    Byrd was left paralyzed and was told by doctors he would never walk again. But, due to his determination and the belief that his family, friends, and teammates had in him, Byrd did in fact walk again.

Mike Utley

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    Mike Utley, a former offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, couldn't beat the injury bug after being drafted in the third round of the 1989 NFL Draft.

    He became the starter immediately for the Lions but was put on injured reserve after he sustained an injury against the Minnesota Vikings. He would miss the remainder of the season.

    His second season didn't go much better than the first. Two broken ribs sidelined Utley for the last preseason game as well as three regular season games. In the sixth game of the season, he suffered another injury, a dislocated shoulder, and played sparingly for the remainder of the season.

    His third season, however, was going better than the previous two. He had started every game for the Lions thus far. Then, on November 17, 1991, Utley sustained broken bones to his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae, paralyzing him from the chest down.

Kevin Everett

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  Former NFL player Kevin Everett accepts the Jimmy V Award for Perserverance onstage at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 2
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett almost suffered the same fate as Mike Utley and was given the same kind of "prognosis" as Dennis Byrd.

    Everett was drafted by the Bills in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft out of the University of Miami and made his debut in 2006 after missing the entire 2005 season with a torn knee ligament.

    He made his return to the field the following year and played mostly with special teams, but made his first career start on September 10, 2006.

    Almost a year to the day later, September 9, 2007, Everett went to tackle Denver Broncos' return man Domenik Hixon and immediately went limp after the hit.

    Everett's injury was described by Dr. Andrew Cappuccino as a "scissoring or pinching injury, caused by dislocation of the third and fourth cervical vertebrae."

    His condition was described as "bleak" and his injury was even said to be "life threatening."

    The tight end made a miraculous recovery to everyone's amazement, and is able to walk on his own today.

    In July of 2008, Everett was awarded the Jimmy V award for perseverance at the 2008 ESPY Awards.

Chucky Mullins

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    In a story that has been told time and time again, Chucky Mullins will forever be remembered at Ole Miss. He not only made an impact at the university, but also the other player that was involved in his injury.

    On October 28, 1989, Mullins went in to tackle Vanderbilt fullback Brad Gaines. The impact of the tackle broke four vertebrae in Mullins' neck and he was immediately airlifted to Baptist Memorial Hospital for emergency surgery. He never regained feeling below his neck.

    Gaines, the person that felt the most responsible for what happened to Mullins, made regular trips to see him and the two became close friends.

    Mullins eventually returned to Ole Miss in June of 1990 to complete his undergraduate degree. However, less than a year later, Mullins died in the hospital in May of 1991 due to a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots because of inactivity in certain parts of his body.

    Gaines still visits the grave site of Chucky Mullins three times a year. May 6 (the anniversary of Mullins' death), October 28 (the anniversary of the injury) and December 25 (Christmas Day). Gaines told ESPN during an interview that, "no one should be alone on Christmas."

Reggie Lewis

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    Guard Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball down the court during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Reggie Lewis was drafted by the Boston Celtics as the 22nd overall pick 1987. He went to high school at Dunbar High where he played with future NBA players Mugsy Bogues, David Wingate, and Reggie Williams.

    During an off-season practice on July 17, 1993 at Brandeis University, Lewis collapsed and died due to sudden cardiac death. It wasn't the first time he had had heart problems. He also collapsed during a playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets just months before his death.

Darryl Stingley

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    Drafted in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, Darryl Stingley amassed 110 receptions, 1,883 yards and 14 touchdowns through 60 regular season games.

    On August 12, 1978, Stingley was hit by Raiders' defensive back Jack Tatum, breaking Stingley's fourth and fifth vertebrae. The only movement he ever regained was in his right arm and the two men never reconciled over it.

    Tatum tried to reach out to Stingley about a book he was writing entitled, "Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum" but Stingley refused to be a part of an HBO interview they wanted to do on the anniversary of the hit.

    Stingley passed away in April of 2007 due to heart disease and pneumonia complicated by quadriplegia.

Chuck Hughes

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    Chuck Hughes was a fourth round selection of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1963 NFL Draft as well as a star at Texas Western College which is now known as University of Texas El Paso. He was also inducted into the UTEP Hall of Fame back in 2006.

    On October 24, 1971, while he was a member of the Detroit Lions, Hughes suffered a fatal heart attack during the game. His teammates were informed of his death after the game was over.

Korey Stringer

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    1 Nov 1998:  Tackle Korey Stringer #77 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Vikings 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran  /Allspor
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Korey Stringer was drafted in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings after playing his college career at Ohio State and blocking for guys like Robert Smith and Eddie George.

    on August 1, 2001, Stringer collapsed during practice at training camp due to heat stroke. The temperatures apparently had reached 108 degrees that day.

    His death brought about a lot of changes around NFL training camps to keep this incident from taking place again.

    The Vikings retired his jersey number 77 during the 2001 season.

James Victor Cain

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    James Victor Cain was a tight end for the St Louis Cardinals, drafted seventh overall in the 1974 NFL Draft.

    Cain played four seasons for the Cardinals and was going into his fifth season when he died suddenly due to congenial heart failure during training camp. To make matters worse, it was on his birthday. He had just turned 28 years old.