Nathaniel Little returns to Standridge Stadium, where 14 years ago, during his junior year at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton, he suffered a catastrophic injury while tackling a fullback on the football field.
“I chased him down and grabbed ahold of him and we both kind of just fell and that play I just didn’t get up,” Little recalls.
The injury left Little paralyzed from the neck down. But also determined to not let what he calls a “freak accident” define his life.
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“I didn’t want to let my injury affect who I was or what I wanted to do,” said Little.
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Little graduated the next year and went on to earn a college degree in Strategic Communications. Along the way, his sister introduced him to another form of expression – poetry.
Little says poetry gives him a good way to express himself. It has also led to a great achievement.
He is now a published author of a book called, “Natty Boy Black Presents Poets of North Texas.” The book featuring some of his poems along with written work from other people who, like Little, have endured tragedy in their lives.
On a special night recently, Little and his fellow co-authors read their poems to a large crowd at Heroes Lounge in Dallas. The applause afterward making Little feel a little like he did when he was able to compete on the football field.
“If I was in football and you make a good tackle, people [would be] cheering for you, right?," said Little. "Well, I just finished a poem and I got the same reaction that I would get on the football field and so that was an amazing feeling to have again.”
It’s not the only feeling that has returned since his accident. After thousands of hours of physical therapy, Little has regained some movement in his hands and arms, and he’s not stopping there.
Little calling himself a “man of faith” and vowing to one day walk again.
In the meantime, he hopes his story will inspire others. His main message – there’s no time for a pity party.
“I’m not looking back at it being like ‘Oh, I’m so sad because life is over’ because I can’t change the past. I can only try my best to alter the future," Little said.