It was one play that changed Rocky Clark's life forever. One play that not only affected lives of those close to Clark, but high school athletes to come as well. Tune into Comcast SportsNet on Dec. 23 for the premiere of "Rocky Clark: The Legacy Lives On".
Back in September of 2011, a promising 16-year old high school running back had no idea his life would change forever as he ran onto the field. When Rocky Clark began that matchup against Oak Forest High School, he didn't know he was just one tackle away from two broken vertebrae in his neck and a devastating spinal cord injury that would change his life forever.
"I never saw how this happened," Rocky's coach Greg Walder said about the injury. "I can see the play in my head. It is a normal tackle. There were ten hits in that game that were more vicious than that hit. I don't know how it happened."
But it did happen. And yet it wasn't enough to take away Rocky's faith and determination. With his mother Annette by his side, Rocky went on to graduate from Eisenhower High School. He even attended junior college at South Suburban College and helped coach his old high school football team, all while receiving constant medical attention.
In 2010, his story became a national headline after his school's 5 million insurance policy reached its cap.
"I got the letter. It was a two-sentence letter. It said Rocky's insurance was gone," Annette explained. "I let things upset me and he wouldn't. I said the nurse care is gone now. When he sees me upset, he would tell me 'it's going to be alright', but he thought he would be taken care of for the rest of his life."
Just 16 months later, Rocky passed away at the age of 27.
"(Rocky) said, 'Mama... I love you' and I said 'I love you too,'" Annette recalls of her son's final days. "I talked to the lord and I had asked him many times before to let me have him because he would have been gone and he would give him right back to me, but this time was for Rocky to go ahead on and I said to the lord 'thy will be done.'
My son had to get hurt and die to try to make a point. That makes me angry every time I think about it. My children were supposed to bury me."
Although his time on Earth was lost far too soon, Rocky's story and the determination he showed even in the hardest of times left a stronger impact in just his 27 years than many do in a lifetime.
"He was a guy you could go up to and talk to," Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett recalled. "He would tell you the whole incident, about his life. He's one of those guys that just moved me when I spoke to him."
Now you can remember and celebrate Rocky's life on Comcast SportsNet with special airings on Dec. 23 at 7:00 p.m., Dec. 25 at 9:30 p.m., Dec. 31 at 9:00 p.m., and Jan. 5 and 7 at 7:00 p.m.