Ryan Shazier may not be suiting up for the Pittsburgh Steelers after suffering a serious spinal injury in December against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he’s using his platform in a more meaningful way than laying hits on the field.
The 26-year-old linebacker and 2014 first-round draft pick recently visited Hayden Hamilton, a high school football player who suffered a spinal cord injury in August, and has been rehabilitating himself at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
According to the hospital’s Twitter account, Shazier spent time providing a little hope to the teen, and then gave him a his own personalized Steelers jersey.
“The two shared stories & connected about their rehabilitation, while Ryan provided confidence & support for Hayden’s recovery, said Burt Lauten, the Steelers’ director of communications.
Hayden Hamilton, a Laurel High School teen who suffered a spine injury during a football game in Aug, is receiving treatment at Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Unit. He had a HUGE surprise when @steelers linebacker @RyanShazier visited & even presented him with his own jersey! pic.twitter.com/2bpyMF53IR
— UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (@ChildrensPgh) October 26, 2018
Shazier injured himself when he lowered his head to make a tackle, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. Then he had surgery to stabilize his spine.
Remarkably, he walked across the stage at the 2018 NFL Draft to announce his team’s first-round pick after spending some time in a wheelchair. And, with dreams of playing professional football again, he continues to work hard every day in the team’s facility rehabilitating his body.
“My dream is to come back and play football again,” Shazier said in a press conference in June. “I have been working my tail off every single day. I have that in the back of my mind during rehab, and I’m trying to stay positive every single day.”
When Shazier isn’t providing support and encouragement to fellow spinal cord injury victims, he’s serving as a team advisor for the Steelers this season, and burying himself in film and workouts.
“Just because I got hurt doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving the game of football,” he said in a June press conference.