BOSTON – Boston University hockey player Travis Roy, who was paralyzed 11 seconds from his first college shift and went on to become a spokesman for survivors of spinal cord injuries both inside and outside the sports world, has died. He was 45.
His death was confirmed by the BU Athletic Department and the Travis Roy Foundation.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy,” the school said in a statement. “His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people.
“Travis’ work and dedication to helping other survivors of spinal cord injuries is nothing short of astonishing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country. ”
Roy was a 20-year-old freshman who debuted for the reigning NCAA champions in the 1
The accident left him a quadriplegic.
From his wheelchair, he gave up to 40 motivational speeches a year. The message he shared: Do the best you can and do not dwell on your misfortune.
“I like to say the first 20 years I had a life full of passion and the last 20 I have had a life full of purpose,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after I turned 40. ”The dream is to have both at the same time, but I’m lucky. I’m taking one of them. ”
Since founding the Travis Roy Foundation in 1997, it has raised more than $ 9 million – half for research and half to supply equipment to those with spinal cord injuries. Roy, who was able to control the joystick maneuvering his chair, regained some movement after the injury and had no feeling below the center of his chest.
“I just thought the research would move, and when I was 40, I might have had a chance at normalcy again,” Roy AP told in 2015, “some children and a wife and no longer live in 24-hour home care. ”
The hockey world mourned his passing Thursday, with the NHL calling Roy “a special man who responded to his devastating injury by dedicating himself to serving others.”
Former Bruins star and current team president Cam Neely also shared his sympathy.
“Travis Roy was the ultimate symbol of determination and courage,” Neely said. “The impact Travis has had on the New England hockey community is immense, and his relentless advocacy for spinal cord research has been inspiring.”
Ray Bourque, another former Bruin and Hockey Hall of Famer, said he and his wife were “honored to have known such a great man who helped so many others.”
“The warmth, strength, and resilience he showed to tragedies sets him apart,” said Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy. “His mantra was never to take anything for granted, and his message resonates more strongly than ever with all of us in the Red Sox.”
Roy’s work as a fundraiser and motivational speaker combined with his persistent optimism to make him a hero among other victims of spinal cord injuries.
“Travis Roy, you were my friend, mentor, role model and the most positive person I knew,” Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota hockey star who was also paralyzed after a hockey collision, said on Twitter. “You have forever changed SCI and the hockey community. Thank you for taking the time to get to know each other. ”
This Laing, who was paralyzed during a show before the 2016 NHL Winter Classic, also tweeted her thanks.
“Travis did so many small things and big things for so many people,” she wrote. “This is cleansing, really really sad.”
Son of a Maine hockey field manager who started skating when he was 20 months old, Roy went to North Yarmouth Academy and Tabor Academy before joining BU. Both high schools have named their courses after him.
BU withdrew Roy’s No. 24 in 1999; he graduated from school with a degree in communication the following spring.
“I always think how grateful I am,” Roy told the AP on the twentieth anniversary of the injury. “What goes into my mind once in a while is, ‘Thank God it was not brain damage.’ I do not want any pity. ”
He said he occasionally thought about what could have happened if he had not been injured.
“There are times when it’s fun to think about it,” he said. “It’s also a little sad not to know the answer.”
Among the players on the BU Terriers team 1995-96 were future NHLers Chris Drury, Jay Pandolfo, Shawn Bates and Mike Grier. John Hynes is now the coach of the Nashville Predators. Coach Jack Parker is a spectator in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame; Olympic hero Mike Eruzione was the assistant coach.
“It’s so sad for so many reasons – not just the athletic end to it, but what his life could have been,” Eruzione told the AP on Thursday night. “Seeing a life change in such a direction because of 11 seconds.
“But what he did with it afterwards was incredible,” Eruzione added. “Such an inspiration. He could have folded the tent. He could have said, ‘This is it.’ But he chose a different path in his life, and he raised millions of dollars.
“It just stinks, it’s 45 that it’s over.”