September 9, 2007. Sunday’s weren’t supposed to go like this. Football fans across the nation settled down in their dens or on a friend’s couch to watch a little NFL action on the first Sunday of the season. The players live for the adrenaline rush of the season’s first Sunday, the cheers, the limelight, and…the kickoffs. This Sunday, though, things went horribly wrong.
On the opening kick-off of the second half of the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos, Kevin Everett, a third-year Bill from the University of Miami, sprinted down the field towards the Denver Bronco returner. The collision that ensued, a chilling collision that those of us watching the game still remember well, almost ended Everett’s life. Everett immediately slumped to the grass. The seriousness of the hit was apparent immediately. The hit had severed Everett’s spinal cord.
What happened after that Sunday has been well-documented and treated appropriately as something akin to a miracle. Calling the injury life threatening in the worst case scenario, the best doctors and surgeons in the country gave Everett little to no chance to ever regain mobility. But five months later, he was walking again. And writing books on his story. And appearing on Oprah. And starting charity foundations bearing his name. There was even talk of him returning to football someday.
Almost five years later, however, the talk show appearances and visions of playing football have ended. Although still able to walk, Everett never was able to run again and never will be able to. His motor skills are well below average and he feels often nauseous. He is unable to do anything but basis exercises and frequently becomes dizzy. The doctors feel his conditions will deteriorate over the years.
But it’s not as if this in where the story ends. Quite the opposite – this is where the story really gets interesting and, frankly, begins. Without the spotlight of book tours or Football Night in America, Everett and his wife, Wiande, who were married a few months after the accident, have created a life of dignity and strength in the aftermath of that Sunday that can only be described as inspiring and blessed.
Kevin and Wiande Everett now focus on their two small daughters, 2 ½-year-old Famatta and 14-month-old Faith and being active, supportive members of their community and church. They also recently obtained guardianship of Ashton, a teen-aged cousin of Everett would needed a stable and disciplined home.
Rather than focus on the what-might-have-been NFL career and the limitations of his physical conditions, Everett and Wiande have become the very definition of the “never give up” Jimmy V award that Everett received for his physical accomplishments at the 2008 ESPY award show. But now they are showing people not only how to not give up but also, and more importantly, how to live. That is the true miracle of the Kevin and Winade Everett story – a story that is just beginning and far from over.
The Everett’s have a lot to share and they are going to do that here on ProPlayerInsiders with their new show called Everett’s House. The show will bring you inside the Everett’s house and share with you a very personal view of their life, experiences in the NFL, life after football and their children’s book series. Speaking of children, expect guest appearances by their kids and of course a few unexpected guests.
[portfolio_slideshow size=large showtitles=false showcaps=false showdesc=false pagerstyle=bullets exclude=22540]