Originally created 12/31/06

Former player is seeking normalcy

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Most of the tears and questions are in the past. All Tyson Gentry really wants now is to get on with his life.

Those scary first few days in the hospital, his 21st birthday and his first Christmas in a motorized wheelchair have all flown by. After breaking a vertebra in his neck April 14 while trying to make a catch during an Ohio State football practice, Gentry's focused on the future - rehab to get through, classes to attend and a life to live. And a big football game to watch.

Still listed on the roster for the top-ranked Buckeyes' national championship game with Florida on Jan. 8, Gentry and his family leave Jan. 2 for Glendale, Ariz. to take part in the hoopla of the BCS title game. But then it's back to business.

"Graduating is my No. 1 goal. Just to continue on and do things as I was doing them before, just finding things to keep me busy," Gentry said. "To pretty much go on as if nothing were really different."

That has been a steep climb ever since the third-year walk-on punter/receiver landed awkwardly while running a pass route during a spring workout. His teammates fell on the ball, then slowly untangled and got back to their feet. Gentry remained motionless on the turf.

One source of inspiration is former Penn State player Adam Taliaferro. They met for the first time when they were introduced Sept. 23 at halftime of the Buckeyes' game against the Nittany Lions. They received a lengthy standing ovation from 105,266 fans at Ohio Stadium.

Taliaferro suffered an injury similar to Gentry's on the same field during a 2000 game and now can walk.

"It's like I tell Tyson - it's a marathon, not a sprint," Taliaferro said of recovering from spinal-cord injuries. "I told him, just keep pushing at it. You never know with these injuries. I've seen people walk after two, three years later. So you have to keep working hard every day, and you'll get positive results."

Gentry can feel it when a doctor touches his legs, but he's still unable to move them. The family has learned to be patient.

"You really have to look at things from 'the glass being half full,' " his father said. "I know what's on the other side of that road, and I don't want to go there, and neither does he nor the rest of our family."

Gentry holds on to the hope of walking but will make the best of it even if he doesn't.


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