Travis Roy, the hockey player from Boston University who was paralyzed 11 seconds into his first game and went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors, has died. He was 45 years old. Boston University announced the news, as did the Travis Roy Foundation.
"It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Travis Roy," Boston University said in a statement as reported by the Associated Press. "His story is the epitome of inspiration and courage, and he was a role model and a hero to so many people. Travis' work and dedication toward helping fellow spinal cord-injury survivors is nothing short of amazing. His legacy will last forever, not just within the Boston University community, but with the countless lives he has impacted across the country."
Roy's accident occurred in 1995 when he made his debut for Boston University. In the school's season opener, Roy checked into the game and crashed headfirst into the boards after checking a North Dakota opponent. Roy became a quadriplegic and then went on to give motivational speeches about the obstacles he overcame.
"I like to say the first 20 years I had a life that was full of passion and the last 20 I've had a life full of purpose," he said in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after turning 40. "The dream is to have both at the same time, but I'm fortunate. I'll take either one." Roy started the Travis Roy Foundation in 1997 and raised more than $9 million. The NHL paid tribute to Roy by calling him "a special man who responded to his devastating injury by dedicating himself to serving others." Not only did Roy make an impact on the hockey world, but he also touched the lives of everyone in the Boston community.
"The warmth, strength, and resiliency he exhibited in the face of tragedy set him apart," Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy said. "His mantra was never to take anything for granted, and his message resonates stronger than ever with all of us at the Red Sox." Boston University retired Roy's No. 24 in 1999. He went on to graduate from the school with a degree in communications next spring.