Former Boston University hockey player Travis Roy, who became paralyzed after an injury in 1995 and became a philanthropist for a spinal cord injury, died at the age of 45.
A family spokesperson told WCVB in Boston that Roy died in Vermont due to complications from a trick he needed to maintain his quality of life.
Roy slipped first on the board just 11 seconds during his first shift for BU on October 20, 1995. He had a fourth spina bifida, which left him quadriplegic. Roy has since regained his right arm movement, which he uses to control the joystick to control his wheelchair.
Boston University said: “With a heavy heart, we mourn the departure of Travis Roy. 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. Our sincere thoughts are with his wonderful family as well as his vast group of friends and supportive colleagues. “
̵1; BU Athletics (@BUAthletics) October 29, 2020
In 1997, Roy founded the Travis Roy Foundation to help spinal cord injury survivors lead more independent lives through adaptive equipment funding and scientific research funding.
The fund has raised more than $ 9 million – with more than $ 4.7 million going to research funding and the other half to provide equipment for people with spinal cord injuries. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of his injury, Boston University formed a team of professors Travis Roy on the science of recovery with $ 2.5 million from anonymous donors to the foundation.
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 No. 24 in 1999; he graduated from school with a diploma in communication the following spring.
Among the BU Terriers 1995-96 players were future NHLers Chris Drury, Jay Pandolfo, Shawn Bates and Mike Grier. Coach Jack Parker is a freelance coach in the American Hockey Hall of Fame; Olympic hero Mike Eruzione used to be an assistant coach.
Eruzione told The Associated Press on Thursday night: “It’s sad for so many reasons – not just the end of the sport but his life as well. seconds.
“But what he did with it after that was unbelievable,” Eruzione added. “It’s an inspiration. He could 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 sucks, at 45, it’s over. ”
The US hockey team released a statement about Roy, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the departure of Travis Roy, who turned his personal tragedy into a spark of hope. for millions of people in the game and more. “
His story touched every corner of the hockey world, but made a splash in Boston. Boston Bruins has donated to his fund over the years and in 2015 he signed a one-day contract before he dropped the ritual puck before a home game. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also stated that October 20 was “Travis Roy Day” in 2015.
“Travis Roy is the ultimate symbol of determination and courage,” said former Bruins star and current team president, Cam Neely. “The impact Travis has on the New England hockey community has been immense 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”.
Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota High School hockey player who was paralyzed when he crashed his head against the board in 2011, said Roy was “my hero” in his Twitter post.
“Travis Roy, you’re my friend, mentor, role model and most active person I know,” Jablonski posted. “You’ve changed the SCI and hockey community forever. Thank you for your time getting to know each other. You are my hero. RIP Travis.”
Denna Laing, who was paralyzed during a women’s hockey match ahead of the NHL Winter Classic 2016, also tweeted thank you.
“Travis has done a lot of small and big jobs for a lot of people,” she wrote.
Travis has done a lot of small and big jobs for a lot of people. This is really sad. Travis visited me while I was still in the hospital and has continued to be a great supporter in my recovery. Rub. #ThankYouTravis pic.twitter.com/a3xLwxhTC6
– Denna Laing (@ dlaing14) October 29, 2020
From his wheelchair, Roy gave motivational speeches to help raise money for the fund. The message he shared: Do the best you have and don’t bury your head in your unhappiness.
Roy said in an interview with AP shortly after turning 40: “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. is having both at the same time, but I’m lucky. I will take either. ”
Associated Press contributed to this report.