Isaiah Pead’s NFL career ended in 2016 when he lost his leg in a near-deadly car accident. Now two years later, he’s staring his Paralympic dream right in the face.
The former St. Louis Rams running back, who clocked a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, has his sights set on more speedy runs, but his surface area has changed from turf to track. That’s because he’s eyeing the 400-meter at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Prior to Friday, the 28-year-old had not run on his left leg since the accident. But, thanks to receiving a prosthetic running leg and some guidance from a fellow amputee, his training can officially begin now.
“If they let me on the track,” he told TMZ, “I’m going for the gold. Period.”
First steps in a running leg! 🙌🏾🙏🏾 y’all see what all that trash talkin got me 👀👀 lol pic.twitter.com/XHIGFPdf2Q
— Isaiah Pead (@iPead) May 4, 2018
According to Sporting News, Pead was driving his Cadillac CTS at night when he lost control while taking a curve, and flew off the side of the road into a neighborhood park densely populated with trees.
Wesley Richardson, a close friend and former college teammate, was in the passenger seat. He was wearing his seatbelt, but Pead was not.
The crash severed Pead’s leg and ejected him 30 feet from the car.
“I was scared because I didn’t know how he would react when he woke up,” Richardson told Sporting News. “He was making a living with his legs. It’s not like somebody who can go back to a normal job and make money the way they had been. His entire life was about to flip upside-down. We honestly thought he was going to freak out and go crazy over it all.”
Despite undergoing eight surgeries, he rose up and surprised everyone with his resilient attitude.
“I’m used to performing under pressure, but this wasn’t pressure of a game,” Pead said. “This was, ‘How am I going to respond with all these eyes that are looking at me but also counting on me?'”
Even though Pead is in the very early stages of preparing for a grueling training schedule, with that kind of mindset, it’s easy to already picture him receiving Paralympic hardware.