On November 17, 1991, Detroit Lions right guard, Mike Utley became paralyzed after a hit in the home game against the Los Angeles Rams in the Pontiac Silverdome.
The Lions ended up taking a 21-10 victory over the Rams.
Utley came out of Washington State University where he played for the Cougars on a scholarship. In 1988 team were honored with their fourth ever bowl bid when they were invited to participate in the Aloha Bowl. WSU took a 24-22 victory over the Houston Cougars. In 1989 he helped lead the team to a 9-2 record, the schools best since 1929. They went to the Hula Bowl in and participated in the East-West Shrine Game in 89.
The Lions chose Utley in the third round of the 1989 NFL draft. He became the starting right guard by the end of his rookie season. The paralyzing hit took place in his third season. He went through a series of operations and started rehab in December of the same year Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.
Utley did not let his paralysis stop him from enjoying life. Even now, twenty years later, he is trying to walk again. He started a foundation to educated the public on spinal injuries and help people live a rehabilitative lifestyle. The foundation also looks to cure spinal injuries to help people regain their life now as well as in the future. His dream is to go back to Lion’s Stadium and walk off himself.
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