Beyond the Jersey: One hit changes the life of Westgate High’s Darian Charles

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Imagine, dedicating your life to football. 

And then one day, you’re told you can never play again. 

That’s what happened to Westgate High’s Darian Charles. 

“I’ve been playing since I was about five,” he recalls.

Charles grew up following in his brother’s footsteps and playing football. 

“He was just able to play a lot of different part and spots for us,” explains Westgate football coach Ryan Antoine

Quarterback and running back were where you could find Charles on the field, but one day that all changed.

“I saw two defensive ends come at me and I guess I just froze and I got hit and my neck locked up and I couldn’t get up. they just put me on the stretcher board and put me in an ambulance,” he recalls  

Charles was taken to the hospital and it was there that he found out the news.

“He said I had have two vertebrates fused together and that I wouldn’t be able to play football no more,” he says.

Antoine adds: “Devastated because I mean we support him we love him these kids become ours.”

Vertebrates fused together was something Charles was born with, something that could have taken his life.

“We kind of felt bad as a coach because we didn’t know and that could have happened, it could have been made a turn for the worse,” Antoine says.

Charles remembers: “He told me I could have died if I would get hit the wrong way.”

It was difficult. Watching on the sidelines when your normally under the lights.

“It’s kind of depressing just watching my team play without me but I’m still happy for them just watching on the sidelines cheering them on as best as I could,” Charles says.

But there’s a silver lineing, baseball. 

It’s a non contact sport and one that Charles happens to be really good at. 

So now, you can catch him on the diamond. 

“We’re happy that they caught it and hopefully he can still have a future in what he really loves and that’s baseball,” Antoine says.

Through it all, it’s his teammates and his coaches that have helped him find the light, even if it’s not those that are lighting up the field. 

“Coaches they’ve been like father figures to me ever since I came here every since the incident they’ve been keeping my head up, making sure I’m alright in every way possible and just making sure I stay positive throughout the whole situation,” Charles says.

Antoine says: “He’s going to have a great baseball career because of this and you know his story still has to be told.”

Now on Friday nights, when Charles isn’t on the sidelines cheering on his team, he’s on in the box assisting his coaches.

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