The Day Matt Blaylock’s Life Changed & How He Views His Future

Editor’s Note: Twenty-one-year-old Matt Blaylock from Canton, Georgia was a strong, healthy, talented, three sport athlete, with a college scholarship in his pocket until his accident. Part 2 of a 5 part series.

On May 29, 2009, the day before my high school graduation, I went to a pool party. Before I arrived at the party, some friends and I were drinking. Just a few minutes after we got there, I dove into the shallow end of the pool, but then I can’t recall anything that happened after that. I woke up two weeks later, and my entire body was numb. I didn’t know where I was, I could hear a machine, but I couldn’t talk. I found out later that the reason I couldn’t hear anything was because I was on some type of medicine. I also noticed I couldn’t move. Finally, my mom told me what had happened. She said I’d broken my neck and that I was paralyzed from the neck down. The first thing I thought was, “Why me? Why did this happen to me? I’ve got everything going for me. I’m planning to be a lawyer.” I told myself then that I’d rather be dead than paralyzed. 

Matt realized he was paralyzed, but his attitude wasn't going to be negative.

Matt realized he was paralyzed, but his attitude wasn't going to be negative.

I learned later that I’d crushed my C4 and my C5 vertebrae in my spine, and that the doctors had operated on me, fused my C4 and C5 together and done a tracheotomy. Besides being paralyzed, I couldn’t speak, but I learned to mouth my words, so my mother could at least see what I was trying to say. Communicating was extremely frustrating for me, especially when my mother couldn’t understand me. I had to slow down my speech. From my chest down, I could feel nothing and didn’t have use of my hands. I really thought my life was over. All my friends were moving on with their lives. I knew I’d lost my scholarship to play football and go to college. I felt like I was in a really deep hole. I became determined to get out of this chair.

I’ll never give up hope of being able to walk again. I really have a great support group of family and friends who have helped me get my optimistic view of life back. Because of my athletic background, I know that hard work pays off, and that the harder you work, the better you get at anything. My physical therapist also has told me that improving the mental aspect of my disability is at least half the battle of my recovery. My positive attitude has helped me realize that I will be alright.

My mom keeps telling me, “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.”  I’ve come to believe that I can handle this situation and this injury and overcome it. When I was first going through rehab, I fell back on what I’d learned in football and the other sports I’d participated in – to be patient and work hard, so good things could happen for me. I knew I’d have to become extremely disciplined and work very hard. I still believe that one day I can have a normal life. I look at my friends and see what they’re doing, and I’m convinced that one day I’ll be able to do the same things they are. I also see that right now, I’m doing better than some of my friends in several areas of my life.

Matt was determined to work hard and jump right back in with his friends and peers.

Matt was determined to work hard and jump right back in with his friends and peers. Photo source.

I knew that up until May 29, 2009, there wasn’t any physical hurdle I couldn’t get over. I was young, strong, healthy and tough. I could tackle big running backs coming at me at full speed, I could carry the ball and run over linebackers who were trying to tackle me, I could rebound against bigger players and snatch the basketball out of the air, I could push my body hard and triple jump further than anyone in the county. But now, I was in a wheelchair with no use of my body below my shoulders. I still believed that if I used all the principles that I’d learned from all the sports I’d participated in, I would get better.

One of my favorite activities after surgery was going to rehab. I loved to go to the rehab center and work out and push myself to be better than I was the previous day. I felt when I was working out in rehab, that it was much like working out in sports, and that if I pushed my body as hard as I could push it, I could do well.

Rehab is the bright spot in my day. I really hate that I can’t get as much therapy now that I’m at home, as I did at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Today I have a machine called the Quadriciser that exercises my legs and my arms all at the same time and helps the circulation in my body. I try to get on the Quadriciser as much as possible.  

To learn more about Matt Blaylock, contact, or call 770-380-1432.

Next: Matt Blaylock Discovers What He Can Do After His Accident

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at

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One Response to The Day Matt Blaylock’s Life Changed & How He Views His Future

  1. Pingback: Matt Blaylock: All-Around Star On & Off the Football Field « UroMed Catheter Health Blog

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