Hit changes, saves football player's life - New York News

Hit changes, saves football player's life

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA, Ga. -

In a rough sport, Elisha Shaw is big, and fast, and disciplined. Football taught him that. He says, "I had hard times that I had to get through. Hard games I had to get through, hard practices I had to get through."

In the Fall of 2012, the Tucker High defensive tackle exploded onto the Georgia high school football scene.

The University of Alabama was the first to come calling, and Shaw made up his mind, that's where he wanted to go.

But, that's when it happened. Tucker football team physician and Emory Sports Medicine's orthopedic surgeon Dr. Amadeus Mason says Elisha and the team were running through preseason drills. No one knew anything was wrong. But Dr. Mason says they know, "he was playing with the issues that were there before, and he was a time bomb waiting to explode."

Dr. Mason says he was lined up, trying to block and offensive player, who was trying to break his block. He says, "Elisha was not ready for the play to start, and the person hit him. Hit him on the side of his neck. It seemed very innocuous,"

But Elisha, whose only injury to this point had been a jammed finger, complained of neck pain. So, the Emory Sports Medicine team wanted to find out why, ordering a CT scan, and x-ray and an MRI. That's when they saw it. Elisha had a congenital curvature in his neck, and a previous injury, meaning he probably should never have been playing contact sports. But there was also something much more troubling. Right up at the top of his spine, where his spinal cord meets his brain, a ligament that stabilizes the spinal cord was torn open.

Dr. Mason says, "There was no longer anything holding the spine together, and if the spinal cord is coming down there, and you're not holding the spine, that's paralysis. And at the level just below the brain, you don't survive that." In other words, one more hit could have killed the younger play. Dr. Mason says, "When you don't have that ligament there, you're like a bobble-head, and the spinal can be severed instantaneously."

That's when doctors had to tell Elisha: no more contact sports, no more football. He says, "I didn't believe it. I still don't believe it. It's just something that, I guess, I just have to deal with, and just be smart with it."

Dr. Mason says football is a rough sport, and he doesn't feel Elisha's injury could have been prevented. But, he credits the Tucker schools trainers and Emory Sports Medicine with catching the underlying problem before Elisha could get hit again. This Summer, Shaw will undergo surgery to stabilize his spine.

He never gave up his dream of going to Alabama. In February, on signing day, the Crimson Tide came through for him. The school offered Shaw A four year "medical" scholarship. He won't play for Alabama, but he hopes to help on the sidelines, and learn from coach Nick Saban and his staff. He says, "The coaches, I have respect for them, they have respect for me, so they just took care of me."

One day, Elisha Shaw hopes to become a football coach, just like the men who mentored him.

  • More Health NewsMore>>

  • Is the discharge of two American Ebola patients safe? Doctor says yes

    Is the discharge of two American Ebola patients safe? Doctor says yes

    Thursday, August 21 2014 6:13 PM EDT2014-08-21 22:13:10 GMT
    Dr. Kent Brantly walked into Thursday's press conference showing no signs of his almost month-long battle with the deadly Ebola virus.
    Dr. Kent Brantly walked into Thursday's press conference showing no signs of his almost month-long battle with the deadly Ebola virus.
  • Cancer survivor celebrates 5 year mark with donor

    Cancer survivor celebrates 5 year mark with donor

    Monday, August 18 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-08-18 22:08:02 GMT
    If Erin Blonshine ever wondered if her perfect match was out there, now she knows. His name: Johannes Saur. Blonshine, a 29-year-old teacher, says "It's very surreal to stand next to him and know that on the inside our immune systems match."
    If Erin Blonshine ever wondered if her perfect match was out there, now she knows. His name: Johannes Saur. Blonshine, a 29-year-old teacher, says "It's very surreal to stand next to him and know that on the inside our immune systems match."
  • Report: CDC scientist kept quiet about flu blunder

    Report: CDC scientist kept quiet about flu blunder

    An investigation into a potentially dangerous blunder at a government lab found that a scientist kept silent about the accident and revealed it only after other employees noticed something fishy.
    An investigation into a potentially dangerous blunder at a government lab found that a scientist kept silent about the accident and revealed it only after other employees noticed something fishy.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Chris Rock gets foul ball at Yankees game

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:03 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:03:11 GMT
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
    Chris Rock almost made the play of the day at Yankee Stadium. Instead, the comedian wound up with a nice prize -- a foul ball that nearly landed in his lap during Thursday's game between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
  • Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Official: NYPD body cameras are 'win-win'

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:02 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:02:35 GMT
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
    Public Advocate Letitia James says a 3-ounce camera, if used correctly, could be a key tool in improving community and police relations. She showed off one of the cameras she believes NYPD patrol officers need to be wearing. She said that the cameras would be a "win-win" for the public, transparency, police accountability improving police community relations, reducing civil liability.
  • Pediatric cancer awareness

    World Trade Center to go gold

    World Trade Center to go gold

    Thursday, August 21 2014 8:48 PM EDT2014-08-22 00:48:12 GMT
    Like so many teenagers, Shelby Huff was hung up on getting abs until one day two years ago when she realized looking good was not as important as feeling good. She was doing sit-ups when suddenly she developed huge bruises on her legs. Shelby was diagnosed with a deadly bone marrow disease.
    Like so many teenagers, Shelby Huff was hung up on getting abs until one day two years ago when she realized looking good was not as important as feeling good. She was doing sit-ups when suddenly she developed huge bruises on her legs. Shelby was diagnosed with a deadly bone marrow disease.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices