In January he welcomed the birth of his third son. One month later he won his third Super Bowl in three years. The next week he was playing in his first Pro Bowl in beautiful Hawaii. Life was good for the amiable Tedy Bruschi. But days after his return from Honolulu his world was shattered.
He woke up and couldn't see his oldest son out of his right eye. His arm trembled and he knew at once this was more than the ordinary post game soreness. Within an hour he was in an ambulance headed for Massachusetts General Hospital unaware that his life was about to change dramatically.
When the doctors told him he had a mild stroke he stared at them in disbelief. He never asked "why me," never wallowed in self-pity. He never gave playing football again another thought; he was worried he'd never regain his eyesight. Throughout the winter and spring Tedy Bruschi did his best to shield his privacy and work to regain his coordination and other motor skills that he used to effectively to make his living as a linebacker. Soon he was walking without losing his balance. Gradually his eyesight returned to normal. He spent time at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital where he met many other stroke victims and they formed an immediate bond since they all had so much in common. It was here that Tedy Bruchi made the greatest impression. Sure, they all knew he was an All Pro football player, but what many of the patients found out was that Tedy Bruschi was an All Pro person.
On Halloween Tedy Bruschi made history. No stroke victim had ever returned to play in a professional sporting event. The mere presence of him in uniform lit up the eyes of his wife Heidi as all of New England embraced him from wherever they were watching the game. Tedy didn't forget how to play football and Tedy didn't forget his friends at Spaulding, many who will struggle with their comebacks for quite some time. What Tedy Bruschi has given stroke victims and others with debilitating injuries is hope. He told me that the lesson he preaches is that there will be "good days and bad days." That the "good days are easy but the bad days can be discouraging. It is how you handle those tough days that define your character. My family and my friends pulled me through those tough days."
He has celebrated Thanksgiving and now will enjoy his most cherished holiday season ever. It has been a long road for Tedy Bruschi since that February morning. He'll be the first to tell you that his, is indeed, a wonderful life!