Ryan Shazier's NFL career came to a halt on one play in 2017, and as he's traveled the long, arduous road back to being able to recover, he's discovered a new purpose for his life's unexpected turn.
Shazier announced his establishment of the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation on Tuesday via Twitter. The fund is the "brainchild" of the former Steelers linebacker, "whose life-altering spinal cord injury opened his eyes to a vulnerable community and the systemic barriers SCI patients face in their road to recovery," according to the fund's official website.
"My team and I have been working behind the scenes to find ways to continue to push forward progress for the spinal cord community," Shazier wrote on Twitter. "One step at a time we will change how people view spinal injuries."
Shazier's promising career took an unexpected turn when he suffered a spinal cord injury while attempting to make a tackle during Pittsburgh's game against Cincinnati on Dec. 4, 2017, and he's spent the following years working toward regaining his ability to walk while also realizing the struggles of those like him who have suffered such significant injuries.
Shazier's former coach, Mike Tomlin, tweeted congratulations for Shazier on the establishment of his fund, which has made its mission "to give those with spinal cord injuries and their caregivers the support, resources and funding they need to live independent and meaningful lives."
Selected in the first round of the 2014 draft, Shazier played in 46 games over three-plus seasons, reaching the Pro Bowl twice prior to his injury. Though his injury cut his career short and led him to retire at 28 years old in September, Shazier has found a new purpose and aims to positively affect the lives of those who have had their reality drastically affected by such injuries.