BOSTON – Travis Roy, a Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed for 11 seconds during his first college shift and became a campaigner for spinal cord injury survivors both during and outside the world of sports, passed away. He is 45 years old.
His death was confirmed by sports division BU and the Travis Roy Foundation.
“We mourned the departure of Travis Roy with a heavy heart,” the school said in a statement. “His story is a model of inspiration and courage, and he is a role model and a hero for so many people.
“Travis’s work and dedication to helping spinal cord injury survivors are not surprising. His legacy will last forever, not only in the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has affected across the country. “
Roy is a 20-year-old freshman, making his debut for the defending champions NCAA in the opening game of the 1995-96 season when he crashed into the group after examining a North Dakota opponent.
The accident made him paralyzed limbs.
From his wheelchair, he delivers 40 encouraging speeches a year. The message he shared: Do the best you have and don’t bury your head in your unhappiness.
“I want to say that the first 20 years I lived a life full of passion and the last 20 years I had a life of purpose,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after turning the age. 40. “The dream is to have both at the same time, but I’m lucky. I will take either. “
Since he founded the Travis Roy Foundation in 1997, it has raised more than $ 9 million – half to research and half to supply equipment to people with spinal cord injuries. Roy, who can control the joystick of his chair, has regained little movement after the injury and has no feeling below the center of his chest.
Roy told AP in 2015: “I just thought research would progress and by the time I was 40, I might have a chance to get back to normal,” Roy told AP in 2015, “some kids and a wife who no longer lives with 24-hour home care. “
The hockey world mourned his departure on Thursday, with the NHL calling Roy “a special man who responded to his serious wound by dedicating himself to recovery. other people’s case ”.
Former Bruins star and current team president Cam Neely also condolences.
“Travis Roy is the ultimate symbol of determination and courage,” Neely said. “The impact Travis has on the New England hockey community has been enormous, and his relentless support for spinal cord research has inspired.”
Ray Bourque, another former Bruin and Hockey Hall of Famer player, said he and his wife were “very honored to know such a wonderful man who has helped so many others”.
“The warmth, strength and resilience he demonstrated in the face of tragedy set him apart,” said Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy. “His mantra is never to underestimate anything, and his message is stronger than ever to all of us at Red Sox.”
Roy’s fundraising work and motivational speaker combined with his enduring optimism make him a hero to other spinal cord injury victims.
“Travis Roy, you are my friend, mentor, role model and most active person I know,” said Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota High School hockey star who was also paralyzed after a crash. Hit hockey, say on Twitter. “You changed the SCI and hockey community forever. Thank you for taking the time to get to know each other ”.
Denna Laing, who was paralyzed in an exhibition ahead of NHL Winter Classic 2016, also tweeted her thanks.
“Travis has done a lot of small things and great things for so many people,” she wrote. “This is heartbreaking, really sad.”
The son of a hockey rink manager in Maine who started skating at the age of 20 months, Roy attended North Yarmouth Academy and Tabor Academy before entering BU. Both high schools named their skates after him.
BU retired Roy’s No. 24 in 1999; he graduated from school with a diploma in communication the following spring.
“I always think how grateful I am,” Roy told AP on his 20th anniversary of injury. “What comes to mind sometimes is ‘Thank God, it’s not a brain injury.’ I don’t want any pity ”.
He said that he sometimes thinks about what could have happened if he wasn’t injured.
“There are good times when I think about it,” he said. “It’s a bit sad to not know the answer.”
Among the BU Terriers 1995-96 players were future NHLers Chris Drury, Jay Pandolfo, Shawn Bates and Mike Grier. John Hynes is currently the coach of Nashville Predators. Coach Jack Parker is a freelance coach in the American Hockey Hall of Fame; Olympic hero Mike Eruzione used to be an assistant coach.
“It’s sad for a lot of reasons – not just the end of the sport but his life as well,” Eruzione told AP on Thursday night. “To see a life change in that direction for just 11 seconds.
“But what he did with it after that was unbelievable,” Eruzione added. “What an inspiration. He can fold the tent. He could say, ‘This is it.’ But he took a different path in his life, and he’s raised millions of dollars.
“It’s just bad, that at 45, it’s over.”